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: RB James Conner
Stock Value: Down
Some preliminary text on this one before we get into the full explanation: this measurement of James Conner’s stock value is based entirely on the fact that he has missed almost everything since suffering a hamstring injury in rookie minicamp and was never able to return to full capacity by the time minicamp ended last week.
What this is not saying is that Conner’s roster spot, role, or performance are in any way in jeopardy. I am simply saying that, relative to whatever his value was prior to his hamstring injury, the injury and his subsequent inability to get on the field since then reflects a value lower than that. In contrast, I wrote a stock report for Tyson Alualu reflecting an upward trajectory because he was able to return to the field due to injury.
Now, with that out of the way, with the intent entirely to attempt to avoid people freaking out in outrage, let’s talk about James Conner the professional football player, or what very little that we know about him at this point.
The truth of the matter is that he will not have been doing a whole lot that is going to show us what kind of player he is. That is simply the nature of the running back position when it comes to practicing without pads on.
He has over a month to get that hamstring right and to open training camp with a running start. I will expect him to be, or to become, a star attraction in the backs on backers drill, reflective of his aggressiveness and his defensive background.
For a bigger back such as him, the primary interest lies in seeing him in pads, but that’s certainly not the only thing we’ll be looking out for once we get to see him in training camp. How sort are his hands as a receiver? How good are his eyes and his reads in pass protection?
Despite his reputation as a big back, Conner was also surprisingly elusive as a college runner and gained a significant percentage of his yardage on breakaway runs. To be able to see him continue to pull that off at this level of competition will bear monitoring as well. But first he has to come in with a healthy hamstring.