With the 2016 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certainly players.
And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far, and more specifically since the draft, has sent their stock rising or falling.
Player: DE Stephon Tuitt
Stock Value: Up
Does it startle you to realize that Steelers third-year defensive end Stephon Tuitt might perhaps still have a significant amount of room to grow? If you are on the Steelers’ schedule this year, then you might well be, because in spite of the fact that he played very well last year, he has the physical talent, skill set, and dedication to become a premiere player at his position, a designation he might not be far from already.
Tuitt was drafted after his junior season in 2014 and only just turned 23 a week ago to the date, on May 23. The 6’6”, 300-plus-pound defensive end is rather athletic for a man his size, a fact partially masked by the fact that the played through a sports hernia in his final season, which is the likely culprit for him having slipped out of the first round of the draft.
The Steelers are continuing to reap the rewards that were begun to sow late in his rookie season, when he entered the starting lineup with four games to go. In one of his first starts, he made a hustle tackle down the field that resulted in the ball spurting loose for a forced fumble.
Last season, he entered the starting lineup on a full-time basis and recorded an impressive 54 tackles and 6.5 sacks, as well as an interception, in spite of the fact that he began the season with an ankle injury, and he suffered another ankle injury early in the regular season that caused him to miss two full games.
Tuitt not only came on as a pass rusher this season, but also as a stout run defender who has become very adept at holding the point of attack and releasing from the block. He is also a skilled penetrator when asked to one-gap and is able to be highly disruptive, particularly as he continues to gain experience.
In some ways, no doubt, the young man is still learning what it is that he’s doing, and he is even still maturing into his body, or more specifically how to wield it. His 2015 season was a very good start, but the fact that he can be better by a fair degree is rather encouraging.