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: WR Demarcus Ayers
Stock Value: Down
Demarcus Ayers was just a seventh-round pick last season, and the primary reason that they drafted him was because they thought that he might offer something as a punt returner. So to say that his stock is down is really more about what happened in the offseason than at the end of last season.
It should be kept in mind that Ayers did not make the 53-man roster last year—and not only that, he was not the first wide receiver that they called up from the practice squad when injuries piled up. They chose instead to promote a wide receiver that they only added to the 90-man roster in training camp, rather than a player who had been in the system since the draft.
But facts are facts, and he did finish the season on the 53-man roster. Not only that, but he made meaningful contributions, though he didn’t log a ton of playing time outside of the meaningless regular season finale against the Browns, a game in which he scored a touchdown.
Be that as it may, the Steelers didn’t really lose anybody who wasn’t perpetually injured from a year ago, and they added some very, very significant players in the process, including, most notably, getting Martavis Bryant back from suspension.
Right now, Pittsburgh is looking at a group of nine wide receivers who are all rosterable, eight of whom aside from their rookie second-round draft pick have all already spent time on 53-man rosters, either with the Steelers or elsewhere.
So suffice it to say that Ayers is going to have a tremendous battle on his hands trying to make the roster, although I might say that he is currently seventh in line in the imaginary pecking order. It’s certainly possible that he climbs his way to sixth and manages to make the roster, but it will take an extremely good summer, and probably strong work in the return game as well.
And don’t get me wrong, I like Ayers. But the simple fact of the matter is that this is potentially a very deep group of wide receivers, and it would be hard for any player who isn’t a starter to crack the Steelers’ depth chart there.