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 Chris Hubbard
Stock Value: Even
I think we all know how much third-year offensive lineman Chris ‘Mother’ Hubbard is revered—not by the fan base, of course, but by the coaching staff, which has kept him on the 53-man roster for the past two seasons after he spent the entirety of the 2013 season as a rookie undrafted free agent on the team’s practice squad.
For a player who has been on the roster for two years and dressed for a number of games, he certainly doesn’t appear to be viewed as a player who holds much cache, and that is with the consideration that they have not drafted another interior offensive lineman in the past two seasons, nor added one in free agency.
But his status is viewed fairly, I think, particularly in light of the fact that his ascension to the 53-man roster last season in spite of a fairly dismal preseason showing was no doubt aiding by extenuating circumstances tied to injuries, which had the ripple effect of forcing the team’s top reserve center into the starting lineup.
To be fair, however, Hubbard played a considerably more stable game when called upon during the regular season, in which he was primarily used not as an offensive lineman per se but as a tackle-eligible tight end, an extra blocker.
As an interior player, further injuries perpetuated the circumstances in which Hubbard was needed, however, to the point in which by the midpoint of the season, he became the primary reserve lineman at all five offensive line position. It is a great fortune that the line stayed remarkably healthy from that point forward. Hubbard logged about a half-dozen snaps at left tackle, in which capacity he represented himself surprisingly capable.
Still, he only logged a few dozen snaps over the course of the year, and with Cody Wallace resuming his normal role, and B.J. Finney presumably coming along, it would appear that Hubbard will have some quite meaningful competition for his roster spot this year.
If he plays as poorly in the preseason as he did last year, he may not get by on the faith of the coaching staff this time around. It seems many would be glad for that; I’m simply interested in assuring that the best lineman ends up on the roster. the loser, of course, could be kept on the 53-man roster, provided that Wallace is viewed as a given.