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 William Gay
Stock Value: Down
Let me say in advance that this is not a hit piece on William Gay, nor is it an admonishment of his abilities, but rather an attempt to accurately portray the value of his role within the organization and within the defense as reflected by recent developments, with the draft in particular.
I do think it is accurate to say that Gay’s value has decreased of late, and of course it goes back to a year ago when the Steelers drafted Artie Burns. Gay lost his starting job as an outside cornerback around midseason and he may never play there again.
There are questions as to whether or not he will start in the slot this year, assuming 2015 second-round pick Senquez Golson is ever able to take the field, or if rookie third-round draft pick Cameron Sutton proves to be as quick a study as he seems, a player who seems to be made for the slot.
The team has now used a third-round pick or higher on a cornerback in each of the past three drafts. One would think that they would like to have at least two of them playing regular snaps, and Ross Cockrell is going to be the other guy.
So even though, according to Pro Football Focus, Gay gave up the fewest yards per coverage snap in the division, at just .67 yards (Cockrell was second on the team and fourth in the division with .87 yard per snap in coverage) it’s quite possible that he finds himself spending quite a bit of his time on the sideline. It’s not altogether improbable that he actually fails to make the team, though I don’t expect that to happen.
There could still be a role for him. He could evolve into a dime player as the sixth defensive back, which is something that they have wanted to incorporate more in recent years, and may be more likely to do this year. Or he could fend off his challengers and continue his work in the slot, even though the team is looking for somebody who is more adept at playing man coverage.