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: WR Antonio Brown
Stock Value: Up
It’s hard to imagine that a player with his abilities and accomplishments already on record could do a whole lot to improve his game, and his stock, but Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown may have been able to do that this offseason.
As I wrote a week or so ago, Brown talked about his experience on Dancing With the Stars and how he believes that that sort of activity could help him to improve his footwork. He also said recently that he believes that it could have a positive impact on his vertical ability. The All-Pro even Tweeted earlier that he recently timed himself running a 40-yard dash in the mid-4.3 range. He ran a 4.5 at the 2010 NFL Combine.
Since entering the league as a sixth-round draft pick in 2010, he has continually improved in ways that seemed improbable. He is at a stage of his career in which the nature of his ability to improve is such that it encroaches on territory that has never been accomplished in the history of the sport—that is the rarified air that we are dealing with when discussing Antonio Brown.
The only thing seemingly holding Brown back last year already was instability at the quarterback position, where his statistical output and overall performance dipped while Ben Roethlisberger was sidelined with a variety of ailments.
With the pair playing together on the field, Brown would have set a pace to set new records for receptions and receiving yards in a season, set to become the first player ever to record a 2000-yard receiving season. He will now have another very realistic opportunity to do so this year, and if his words are to be believed, he is only continuing to improve his game.
There is almost a certainly point at which accolades become arbitrary when talking about what he has done already in his career, since so much of it has already been said, and then doubly justified. The most interesting aspect of his career, though, is the fact that he has continued to defy expectations, to the point at which it no longer makes much sense to doubt his ability to become better than he already has been as an All-Pro.