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: DT Javon Hargrave
Stock Value: Up
It’s hard to project a second-year starter as trending any direction but up, especially after having a strong rookie season, and the Steelers have three of them on their hands this year. I have already talked about Artie Burns in this series, and Sean Davis is still to come, but today’s subject will be their 2016 third-round draft pick, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave.
I tend to shy away from calling Hargrave a nose tackle because the Steelers intend to play him as much, if not even more—likely more—in the nickel than in the 3-4 front, even though he is technically their nose tackle.
But the team uses the 3-4 front so infrequently that it is no longer their base package. Rather, the nickel is, during which they employ two down linemen, and this year, Hargrave figures to be the first lineman off the bench to cycle in to give the starters a blow, something that they seem poised to do more than they have in years in 2017, now that they have the experienced talent to do it.
Not tall enough to play a traditional 3-4 defensive end and not heavy enough to play a traditional 3-4 nose tackle, at least of the bygone era, Hargrave is perhaps best suited as a nickel interior penetrator with his quick feet and strong hand usage.
But he also showed during his rookie season that he is capable of holding his own in the run game, and that is something that I expect will only continue to improve, especially from his first year to his second, now that he has a far better understanding of the defense and of what it takes on a week-to-week basis to compete against NFL talent.
Even his position coach, John Mitchell, is hoping to see better conditioning from his pupil during his second season, and I don’t imagine that will be a problem. He may have finished spring drills dealing with a minor ailment, but there is no reason that he won’t be ready to jump in and dominate once the commute to Latrobe later this month is completed.