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: T Marcus Gilbert
Stock Value: Up
It’s not often that you can be entering your sixth season as a starter and still be trending in an upward direction, but that is right tackle Marcus Gilbert’s trajectory coming off what was quite easily the best season of his career in 2015, which was not fluke, but rather the product of an extended process that required some serious dedication.
Originally drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Gilbert was thrown into the fire early after he had to enter the starting lineup in the second game of his rookie season due to injury. He had a fairly strong rookie season, all things considered, but injuries and inconsistency plagued much of his career then and thereafter.
There was some active talk early on in his career about whether or not he had ‘what it takes’ to be a professional athlete, which concerns as much what one does off the field as it does on it. His college teammate, Maurkice Pouncey, spoke with him during his rookie season, if memory serves, or some time soon after, about what it takes to be a professional.
His second season was marred by an ankle injury that sent him to injured reserve, while he played through another ankle injury in much of his third season. He missed four games in 2014, though his play had begun to ascend after a slow start to that season.
That was a two-fold product, with new offensive line coach Mike Munchak’s teaching combined with his newfound dedication to his body and his craft. He slimmed down to address his agility and durability while maintaining his strength, a process that carried into last year, and that is when the results really showed.
Depending on the particular evaluator, Gilbert only gave up one or two sacks through all of last season, including the playoffs, and that included going up against some of the best of the best in the league and shutting them down.
He is driven by his desire to be perfect. He is driven to achieve his childhood dream of being a Pro Bowler. He is driven to win a championship, of course. He is driven by Pouncey and the rest of his teammates. Quite simply, he is driven, and with that sort of willpower, the only direction to go is up.