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: ILB Jordan Zumwalt
Stock Value: Down
What may end up being Jordan Zumwalt’s undoing in 2016 is the sheer improbability that he can be injured enough three years in a row to justify spending the season on the injured reserve list. The reality is that he likely would have been out of the league almost immediately had he not been placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the past two regular seasons.
That is why he is officially credited with two seasons of experience and is referred to as a third-year player after being selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft in spite of the fact that he has never spent even a second on a 53-man roster.
And even in spite of the fact that the Steelers lost not one, but two inside linebackers in free agency, he still figures to have just as hard a time of cracking the 53-man roster as he ever has, even while the team still figures to carry an abundance at the position.
For starters, the Steelers are already carrying a sixth inside linebacker that spent time on the 53-man roster at the end of last season in L.J. Fort, and prior to that he spent all his time on the practice squad as a valued special teams contributor. He also produced some on defense in the preseason.
The team also signed Steven Johnson in free agency, who has already carved out a niche for himself as a four-phase special teams player, and they just so happen to be in the market for replacing a player exactly like that. In other words, for that reason alone he stands a good chance of sticking on the roster.
Add on top of that the drafting of Tyler Matakevich in the seventh round, a player they described as a pure football player (having recorded nearly 500 tackles in college) and clearly the highest player left on their board at that point in the draft, and you have potentially three players that could be ahead of Zumwalt for what is already only two roster spots.
Mike Tomlin has already joked with Zumwalt about the former UCLA product being a money pit, accruing a salary while on injured reserve the past two years. His injury history will do him no favors on the final cut down day, if he makes it that far.