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: C/G B.J. Finney
Stock Value: Up
The Pittsburgh Steelers are, or at least seem to be, quite fortunate to have not only a strong starting offensive line, but also quality depth behind their starters. Their two primary reserves last season each made three starts and played well, or even better than well, filling in for their replacements. One of them was first-year interior lineman B.J. Finney.
Originally signed by the Steelers as a priority undrafted free agent following the 2016 NFL Draft, Finney was able to make the 53-man roster in his second season within the organization after spending most of his rookie year on the practice squad—he was not signed immediately because he was injured in the final preseason game.
By the end of the year, they declared their thoughts on the rookie by giving him a pay raise that was equivalent to the minimum-salary weekly pay check as though he were on the 53-man roster. This was presumably done as a result of another team sniffing around the goods to persuade him to stay.
That decision certainly appears to have worked out, as he has already emerged as the team’s top interior reserve, usurping the role from Cody Wallace, who served that role in the previous two seasons but who was injured in the preseason, and is still recovering to this day from that injury.
He made two starts last season in place of Ramon Foster at left guard, and in those games, the Steelers had two of their best games, against the Chiefs and the Bills in the regular season, in the latter of which Le’Veon Bell set a new franchise record in rushing yards in a game.
He made a final start in place of Maurkice Pouncey at center, who was getting a rest in a meaningless regular season finale against the Browns. While he did not look quite as good there, he is a natural center and was a Rimington Trophy finalist in college, so I don’t have any concerns about his ability to play that position at this level based on his ability to handle guard.
Finney has played well enough to wonder if he is capable of developing into a player who can be a full-time starter. He has the perfect example to learn from in Foster, who also happens to be the oldest lineman, who was also a former undrafted free agent, and who is the most likely to be replaced the soonest. Finney could be the one to replace him.