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: OL B.J. Finney
Stock Value: Up
I’m actually not entirely convinced with respect to where first-year offensive lineman B.J. Finney’s current stock value lies, to be perfectly honest, but I am going to skew in the direction of the optimist and argue that his stock is trending up, even if he might currently be on the outside of the proverbial roster bubble.
Finney was a priority undrafted free agent following last year’s draft, and he gradually improved his level of play over the course of the preseason. A late injury in the final preseason game was likely the only thing standing in the way of himself and a spot on the practice squad, though he did eventually wind up there. He also ended up with a raise late in the year that paid him the equivalent of a rostered salary.
Whether or not he is in a much better position to land a spot on the 53-man roster remains to be seen. Veteran Cody Wallace is coming off a year in which he started 18 games. He is certainly the team’s top interior reserve, and is not going anywhere.
For as poorly as he played during the preseason, Chris Hubbard still made the 53-man roster last season, and when he got opportunities to play in the regular season, whether it was as a tackle-eligible tight end or even a stint at tackle, he held his own, as much as his detractors might not want to hear that. The coaching staff is in his corner.
All three players reportedly had their opportunities to line up at center during OTAs, though Hubbard’s ability to play tackle and as an extra lineman, plus his in-game experience and tenure on the team, might give him a bit of an edge currently.
It has to be said that with all fairness, likely nobody reading this site has had an opportunity to see Finney play at all since he suffered that injury in the final preseason game, so it’s far from clear what sort of progress he has made since then, nor have there been many reports.
But the Steelers liked him last year and they thought enough of him to give him a pay raise, likely because another team was showing interest in him, and that certainly counts for a lot. He should be in the competition to make it as the team’s second interior linemen, presumably with Hubbard as his competitor. And yes, I’m fully aware of who will be getting all the fan votes, as no doubt the comment section below will make abundantly clear.