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 Lawrence Timmons
Stock Value: Down
At the end of the 2014 season, veteran inside linebackers Lawrence Timmons was playing in his first Pro Bowl. At the end of the 2015 season, he was being taken off the field in obvious passing situations in order to be replaced by a third safety. That is certainly a notable departure.
Back in his early years, it was actually Timmons who would displace another veteran linebacker on obvious passing situations given his speed and athleticism, and his ability to cover and to rush the passer. Now that he is older and losing a step and becoming a less reliable tackler, he is being replaced by a faster and more athletic player—at a different position.
Not that the nurturing of speed and athleticism at his own position has not hindered his situation. After all, it has been the development of Ryan Shazier, his running mate, that has allowed the coaching staff to make the decision to selectively take Timmons off the field in certain passing situations. Shazier is among the fastest linebackers in the league, and has been developing his coverage skills.
There was a time when Timmons was regarded as the coverage linebacker, and it was a role that he filled quite successfully during his “prime” early years in the starting lineup, with some venues regarding him as one of the better 3-4 coverage linebackers.
Between 2010 and 2013, Timmons averaged two interceptions and six pass deflections per season. statistics, unfortunately, never tell the full story, as in spite of the fact that his coverage has waned notably in the last couple of years, he still intercepted one pass (off a deflection) and defended six passes. But he would not have been taken off the field if he were still playing as well as he had a few years ago.
Entering his 10th season, Timmons is currently playing under the final year on his contract, and one does have to wonder if it could possibly be his last season in Pittsburgh, even though he has only just turned 30 years old, by no means old for an inside linebacker. In fact, a good percentage of the projected starters at his position around the league are older than he is.
Whether or not he continues with the Steelers beyond this season, he will likely do so now playing second fiddle to the emerging Shazier, and will slowly transition to more of a two-down player with the frequency of the quarter package utilizing a third safety increasing.