With the 2017 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 certain 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, have sent their stock rising, falling, or breaking even.
Player: CB Ross Cockrell
Stock Value: Up
It has been an interesting year for fourth-year Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell, who in that span of time completed his first season as a full-time starter and subsequently was given a restricted free agent tender, which he eventually signed.
He is expected to continue to play in the starting lineup as an outside cornerback for the Steelers this year, but it could have gone a different way. The Steelers were reportedly actively pursuing leads near the top of the cornerback class in free agency, but they were probably a couple million dollars shy of the market value. Still, it’s about as close as they’ve gotten in years.
Pittsburgh also missed out on some of the top targets at the cornerback position during the NFL Draft—a draft that was deemed uncommonly deep at the position—such that they were unable to draft one until late in the first round, and that cornerback will be fortunate to be starting in the slot by the end of the season.
Many were quick to argue that the fact that the Steelers gave Cockrell only an original-round tender—meaning a team would have had to give up a fourth-round draft pick to sign him if Pittsburgh did not match a contract offer—indicated that they did not value him.
Following the draft, others were quick to point out that Pittsburgh would have been more aggressive at addressing the cornerback position if they so poorly valued Cockrell. They could have taken Kevin King in the first round. They could have traded up just a few spots in the second round to take Chidobe Awuzie. In the case of the latter, they instead took a wide receiver.
Like it or not, Cockrell’s stock value has only gone up since the draft in spite of the fact that the Steelers drafted not one, but two cornerbacks. It is highly unlikely that either rookie is going to provide him serious competition for his starting job, and if the team really wanted to provide him with serious competition, they had opportunities over the past few months to do so.