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David Perales Steelers

Why David Perales Can Make Steelers Roster As UDFA

  • Justin Melo
  • June 6, 2023
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The Pittsburgh Steelers choose quality over quantity when agreeing to terms with just seven undrafted free agents at the conclusion of the 2023 NFL Draft. Head coach Mike Tomlin led a focused search while identifying prospects that fit the team’s culture and needs. Of the candidates, Fresno State outside linebacker David Perales possesses the best chance to make Pittsburgh’s final 53-man roster.

Perales enjoyed an outstanding career at Fresno State. He departed the Bulldogs with 22.5 sacks under his belt, which qualifies as the sixth most in program history. Perales led all defensive linemen with 47 tackles while starting 13 of 14 games in 2022. He finished with a career-high 11.5 sacks (ranked seventh in the FBS) and 16 tackles for loss en route to earning first-team All-Mountain-West honors. Perales also forced two fumbles, had one interception, and five pass breakups.

Steelers general manager Omar Khan signed Perales to a three-year contract worth $2.7 million, per Steelers Depot. Perales received a signing bonus of $14,000 from the Steelers. It was the second-highest bonus among Pittsburgh’s undrafted free agents, trailing just Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan, who received a bonus of $25,000.

But Perales’ path to Pittsburgh’s roster is a bit cleaner than Morgan’s, especially after Khan retained Mitch Trubisky and re-signed Mason Rudolph. The Steelers are searching for pass-rushing depth behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Fourth-round rookie Nick Herbig possesses the inside track to serve as Pittsburgh’s top rotational rusher, but Perales should compete for the next-man-up role. The Steelers also signed veteran journeyman Markus Golden, but the aging Golden will have to earn a roster spot just like Perales does.

Perales wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, but he did test at Fresno State’s Pro Day. The majority of Perales’ testing results ranged from average to disappointing, but he did run a fantastic 3-cone time of 7.1 seconds despite weighing 248 pounds. The results were in line with Perales’ tape, which displays more of a technically refined defender than it does a high-end athlete.

Tomlin holds a special appreciation for try-hards that compete on special teams with a sense of urgency. Perales’ red-hot motor leans favorably to him making an impact in the third phase. Perales’ infectious energy could quickly make him one of Tomlin’s most important special teams defenders. The Merced, California native has the upside of a future special teams captain.

The Steelers typically foster an equal-opportunity environment for undrafted free agents. Just last season, running back Jaylen Warren made the roster despite going undrafted. Fast forward to today and Warren is now the Steelers’ No. 2 running back behind Najee Harris. Perales can perform his way onto the field.

Perales defied the odds to enjoy an illustrious career at Fresno State. He’s now tasked with proving the naysayers wrong again, this time as an undrafted free agent. Perales is the type of fiery competitor that Tomlin typically rewards with a 53-man roster spot.

Written By

Justin Melo