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: TE Xavier Grimble
Stock Value: Down
This one should be pretty obvious, and it is equally directed toward all of the tight ends at the lower end of the depth chart. With the signing of David Johnson yesterday, it virtually, though not entirely by any means, extinguishes any realistic chances of a player such as Xavier Grimble cracking the 53-man roster this year after he spent the entire 2015 season on the practice squad.
In spite of the fact that the Steelers have dealt with the retirement of Heath Miller this offseason, they now have numbers at the tight end position after signing Ladarius Green early in the offseason and now adding Johnson, a former Steeler, of course, who spent the first four years of his career in Pittsburgh.
They join veteran Matt Spaeth and second-year tight end Jesse James, along with fullback Roosevelt Nix, to round of the likely suspects for the blocking skill positions during the 2016 season. it’s very realistic that all five end up making the 53-man roster, but there’s even no guarantee that they keep the four tight ends listed above.
Grimble is a player whose name has gotten some traction over the course of the offseason transition away from Miller, given that he has occasionally gotten his named dropped from coaches and front office executives, which is significant for a practice squad player with no prior NFL experience.
It’s already very rare that a team would even carry four tight ends and a fullback, and not even terribly common for a team like the Steelers to carry four tight ends, but with Spaeth potentially in his last season as well, that makes it notably more likely that they do as they did last year and carry extra.
That is what Grimble’s name was in the discussion—aside from the small minority who believed that he would unseat Spaeth outright, which is not going to happen—but with Johnson returning, and having position versatility to boot, the practice squad candidate is clearly outside the bubble.
But he could, of course, return to the practice squad. He never perhaps stood a great chance of making the roster—the departure of Will Johnson seemed to open the door for him, or someone else—but Johnson’s return likely closed it.