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: ILB Vince Williams
Stock Value: Up
We might as well start with an easy one, as fifth-year inside linebacker Vince Williams’ stock has skyrocketed since August, when he signed a two-year extension that has him under contract through the 2018 season. Failing that, he would have been an unrestricted free agent this year.
The Steelers made that move because they were preparing a contingency plan in the perhaps once seemingly unlikely even that veteran Lawrence Timmons would sign elsewhere in free agency. I don’t know that an actual offer or specific numbers from the front office was every corroborated, but it’s clear that they wouldn’t have matched the guaranteed figure the Dolphins game the long-time starter.
And Pittsburgh just went through seven rounds of the draft without adding a single inside linebacker for competition, not even a mobile player in the late rounds who could potentially play on obvious passing downs. This really seems like the starting buck linebacker job is Williams almost no matter what.
It will be interesting to see just how consistently he actually stays on the field, given the concern that many have that he could be a liability in coverage due to his lack of footspeed, something that was an issue for Timmons in his later starting years.
Williams actually started as a rookie following a season-ending injury suffered by Larry Foote, but the Steelers typically had him on the field for less than half of their defensive snaps, substituting him for an additional safety.
When he started last season, however, he stayed on the field. The Steelers may have gone after Dont’a Hightower in free agency when they had money burning a hole in their pocket, but the starting job is Williams’ for the taking.
So I say, and obviously so, stock up on this one. He came in here as a sixth-round pick and made the roster as a rookie, then contributed above his head that year. His football intelligence no doubt helped him in that regard. As he heads into a starting role, he will need to rely upon that resource.