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: S Daimion Stafford
Stock Value: Up
He may be the newest player on the Steelers’ roster, and not exactly a heralded addition at that, but fifth-year safety Daimion Stafford has already shown some positive forward momentum in managing to gain some third-safety looks with the first-team defense.
The team had already displayed interest in him before he actually signed with the team, having visited with him a week or two prior, but they asked him to drop some weight. When he signed, he was down to 218, which at 6’1”, is still a pretty heavy size for a safety. It’s possible that he may drop another few pounds.
But, of course, if you are looking for a player to line up in that dimebacker role, a third safety functioning as a quasi-linebacker for third-down and similar situations who can still hold up against the run while providing an upgrade in pass coverage, then you don’t want that player to slim down too much, because he needs the size to be able to take on blockers and weave through traffic in the box.
Stafford’s value is by no means exclusively tight to his ability to contribute on defense, however. The Steelers also wanted to bring him in because they believe that he is an above-average player on special teams, which is what they lost in Shamarko Thomas after they chose not to re-sign him. Not that they would necessarily play identical roles on special teams.
Pittsburgh, however, has seemed to reach the conclusion that they will never make a defensive contributor out of Thomas, while Stafford has already proven to be capable of doing so—even doing so under Dick LeBeau. That’s about as good as you can ask for from the front office, to be able to do well in the defense that is most similar to yours.
Does that mean that Stafford is already ticketed for a roster spot? By no means is that the case at the moment, to be sure. But if he can continue to earn practice snaps with the first-team defense and show that he can play a little, that could force the Steelers to make a tough decision at safety, either by keeping five or keeping Stafford over one who was already on the roster and started a year ago.