Pittsburgh Steelers Sign Ex-First-Round Draft Pick to Practice Squad

Taco Charlton

Getty Taco Charlton at Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium

In the wake of the season-ending injury to defensive end Tyson Alualu, the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed former first-round defensive end Taco Charlton to their practice squad.

It’s way too soon to call whether Charlton will effectively make up for the loss of Alualu. He has a ton of work ahead to pick up a complicated defensive scheme like the Steelers employ. Then, there’s the matter of head coach Mike Tomlin even considering Charlton ahead of defensive ends who have experience with the said scheme. After all, Pittsburgh signed another ex-first rounder in safety Karl Joseph on September 1, and he’s still on the practice squad.

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All Sizzle, No Steak

There was a ton of hype surrounding Charlton coming out of Michigan. His college career was highlighted by 2016 first-team All-Big Ten honors. In that season alone, Charlton racked up 10 sacks, 43 tackles (13.5 for loss), and two pass breakups (per University of Michigan).

Once the NFL came calling, though, Charlton couldn’t hack it, failing to live up to the hype. Selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, Charlton was waived after contributing just four sacks and 46 tackles in 27 games (seven starts). Consequently, Bleacher Report labeled him a bust — Dallas’ worst draft pick in a decade.

Charlton saw a brief resurgence in Miami, logging more sacks (five) in 10 games with the Dolphins than the club that drafted him. But when it came time for the Dolphins to decide Charlton’s future, they opted not to exercise his fifth-year option.


Next Stop: Kansas City

In 2020, Charlton was onto the Kansas City Chiefs — the third team in four years to be lured by potential — but he didn’t overstay his welcome. He had two sacks in seven games before a devastating ankle injury cut his season short.

Charlton had high hopes for a rebound in 2021 but, instead, was part of the second round of roster cuts in August.

“Taco is going to play in the league,” Cheifs head coach Andy Reid said via ESPN staff writer Adam Teicher. “He’s too good of a player not to. It just didn’t work out in this case.”

“The way these cuts are set up, it’s a little different than in years past. You have to make these decisions [earlier]. That obviously was a tough decision. I’m hoping he hooks on with somebody or eventually comes back here.”


Terrible Towel Feels

Charlton has hooked onto the Pittsburgh Steelers and, as he posted on Twitter, “can’t wait to see them Terrible Towels.”

The 6-foot-6, 270-pound mammoth of a man was listed among the four Week 3 protections on the Steelers practice squad. Given Pittsburgh’s need for someone of Charlton’s potential, he’ll likely be protected on the regular until he’s ready to roll.


Movin’ on Up

As a direct result of the Tyson Alualu injury, the Steelers had a roster spot open and activated defensive end Henry Mondeaux from the practice squad. For now, though, Mondeaux will back up Isaiah Buggs, currently listed on the Steelers depth chart as the starting nose tackle.


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