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: LT Alejandro Villanueva
Stock Value: Up
Here’s an obvious one for you. Alejandro Villanueva? Yeah, stock up. No player in recent Steelers history has awarded them year-upon-year with greater return on investment than the former Army Ranger, and that trend has only continued.
In 2014, the team signed him to their practice squad as a defensive end and converted him to tackle. They invested that year in him and they rewarded him the following year by emerging as a competent swing tackle who showed spot-starter capability at worst.
The next season—that is, last year—he was given competition for the starting left tackle job, which he admitted took a toll on him, but he won the spot and developed tremendously over the course of the season to the point in which he is legitimately in the discussion as a top-10, maybe even top-five player at his position.
So yeah, his stock value is way up and has climbed significantly every year. And perhaps by the end of the summer his actual stocks will rise in value as well, since the team has reportedly been motivated to, at some point this year, work out a long-term extension with him after demonstrating the capacity to be a franchise left tackle.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that he is a tremendous locker-room influence and a humble and intelligent figure in the locker room, not to mention an ambassador for not just the team, but for the league. Even talking about his size, he’s almost exactly everything you would want to write up as a player for the position—outside of his age anyway, in terms of maximizing access to his prime years.
But ultimately, there really isn’t much that needs to be said here. Villanueva has been on a solidly upward trajectory for nearly three years now and he has done nothing to indicate that that trend will reverse, or even plateau. There is still meat on the bone for him to get even better in terms of consistency and aggressiveness, and his contract will probably reflect that—while also taking into consideration the fact that he is just a third-year player.