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: NT Daniel McCullers
Stock Value: Down
You may have gathered that this was coming, but after the past 48 hours in the news cycle, it would seem fair to provide yet another update on Daniel McCullers, whose stock is continuing to tick downward, to the point in which it no longer seems as though his roster spot is secure.
It was a boon for him that the Steelers managed to avoid the nose tackle position during free agency and the draft, but they do believe that free agent signing Tyson Alualu is capable of playing there in a pinch in the little amount that that position is on the field.
When it comes to the package along the goal line, in which the Steelers use either a 4-6-1 or 4-5-2 front with four down linemen, it is unnecessary to have a true nose tackle in that group, so a pair such as Alualu and Javon Hargrave along the interior would be all that is necessary to carry out that role anyway.
A couple of days ago, we saw multiple beat writers, including Bob Labriola, who writes for the team’s website, openly speculate about McCullers not making the roster, in favor of somebody like Johnny Maxey. That speculation became even more realistic after learning that the team was working L.T. Walton at the nose tackle position.
If Pittsburgh has three bodies in Hargrave, Alualu, and Walton in whom they are comfortable regarding the ability to handle the nose tackle role, then it becomes very realistic that they could move in a direction other than McCullers, who has never lived up to the disproportionate expectations placed upon him as a former sixth-round draft pick.
While he has more than delivered in terms of return on investment, the Steelers could consider moving on from him. Even his position coach, John Mitchell, called him out yesterday while praising other young players, including Walton, who was taking first-team nose tackle snaps over him.
Fans of the man they call ‘Shade Tree’ might rightfully be concerned about the possibility that he fails to make the roster right now. It’s still early to get too deep into that discussion, but it is one that will hang over training camp and the preseason as we all chart the progress of the likes of Walton and Maxey.