Tuzar Skipper, Linebacker
If I had written this last week and wanted to continue the local thread, I might have advocated for former Gonzaga High QB Kevin Hogan, a recent Tennessee Titan cut. But then Houston scooped him up – which is just as well because I really couldn’t see any reason why the Washington Commanders would want to sign (re-sign, actually) Hogan. But I have always had my eye on Skipper. I admit it was the name that first attracted me, but when I watched him back at Toledo, I just saw a guy who made a lot of plays.
Pittsburgh signed Skipper as a UDFA in 2019 and he surprised everyone by making the final roster. But other considerations forced the Steelers to release him before the season and he has kicked around from practice squad to practice squad since. I initially thought Skipper would bulk up a bit and become a 4-3 defensive end, kind of like what Washington currently has in Shaka Toney. But he has stayed at linebacker throughout his career and though he doesn’t boast enough speed to be elite, he has adequate physical ability and a great motor. Essentially, he would be competing against vets David Mayo, Jared Norris and Jordan Kunaszyk, along with a handful of UDFA linebackers Washington has already signed. He can play special teams and provide depth at either weakside or middle linebacker.
None of these players figures to be a star. But the beauty of signing young vets like this is you get hungry players who already have an understanding of what it takes to play in the NFL. They are still young and cheap, but they can bring some actual experience I’ll admit one of the things I look at when assessing players with minimal professional tape is pedigree. Skipper has been signed multiple times by both Tennessee and Pittsburgh. True, he has not shown enough to stick for more than a season. But when coaches like Mike Vrabel and Mike Tomlin give you multiple chances, that says to me that you are worth a look.
Similarly, Robert Saleh brought in Niles Scott when he was the defensive coordinator in San Francisco, and Antoine Brooks has been with teams who made the playoffs both of his years in the NFL.
That may not mean all that much. But it might just be evidence of a diamond in the rough still sitting out there at a good price.