When the Eagles cut Alejandro Villanueva before the 2014 season, the defensive lineman knew why: He didn't have the size to measure up in the trenches.
Fast forward one year later, and Villanueva is a hulking beast. He added nearly 100 pounds in 12 months, bulking up to a sizable 340 pounds and putting himself in position to make the Steelers roster.
At 6-foot-9, Villanueva had great height and ideal measurables for working as a lineman. But he was only 245 pounds -- light for the D-line, especially with that height.
Take a look at the transformation:
— Thomas Duffy (@TJDhoops) August 12, 2015
Last summer wasn't Villanueva's first attempt to make an NFL roster, either. The West Point graduate was on practice and summer rosters for the Bengals in 2010 and the Bears in 2012. Each time, he failed to make the team.
At 26, Villanueva's shot at making the NFL is growing slim. He's a clear physical specimen, having served three tours of duty in Afghanistan with the Army Rangers, a specialized task force comprised of the Army's top personnel.
After the Eagles cut him, Villanueva joined the Steelers' practice squad and began taking reps on the offensive line. So far this preseason, he has been dominant on the field -- his size is making a big difference in his performance, transforming him into a sometimes-dominant offensive tackle who impressed in the team's preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
Steelers Depot reports that Villanueva's size and wingspan make him a formidable pass-protector, and he contributes at a position where Pittsburgh is in desperate need of help.
That lack of depth, combined with the Army grad's impressive transformation and strong performance, give him a legitimate shot at making a regular-season roster for the first time in his career.