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: S Shamarko Thomas
Stock Value: Down
Over the course of his first three seasons, Shamarko Thomas has been both a fan favorite and a favorite target for criticism. He still has a good amount of supporters and detractors in a tug-of-war over his hypothetical future.
Thomas was supposed to enter the starting lineup last year, and was installed in that role for the entire duration of the offseason, even all through training camp and the preseason, but by the time the regular season began, he was replaced by veteran Will Allen after the coaching staff determined that they could not trust him on the back end.
He hasn’t given them any more reason since then to assume that he can be accountable defensively. while Allen is gone—for now—Thomas was also passed on the depth chart by Robert Golden, who projects as the starting safety this year.
Second-round draft pick Sean Davis likely enters the picture immediately installed as the third safety at worst, with the potential to win the starting job. So that puts him in a position where he could be fighting for the fourth safety position.
That is assuming that Allen is not brought back during training camp to play that fourth safety role, which is still certainly something very much in play. As in, he has made it known that he still wants to play, and wouldn’t need time to learn the defense, which he knows as well as anybody at this point.
In the span of one offseason, Thomas has gone from a presumptive starter to potentially entering training camp needing to defend his position on the roster, even if he might have the inside track toward keeping it.
He is entering the final year of his rookie contract. While he has become a fixture on special teams, Ross Ventrone has played equally as well in that role, and remains on the roster. If the Steelers stop seeing Thomas as a potential defensive contributor, that can change the dynamic between those two.
Ultimately, I figure that he does make it onto the 53-man roster, but for the first time, he is likely going to have to really earn his roster spot. If he manages to do that, then he will have to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself to raise his stock, starting with eliminating mental mistakes from all facets of his game.