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: T.J. Watt
Stock Value: Up
I don’t know if it’s just my perception, but the reports of the Steelers’ rookie class so far have seemed to me more positive as a whole than in years past, and that applies in particular to their first three draft picks. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cameron Sutton have been praised for their advancements, but the greatest accolades have been reserved for their first-round pass rusher, T.J. Watt.
The younger brother of three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J., the Steelers’ Watt was the 30th pick in the draft, but it is unlikely that he immediately snares a starting job, for which he would have to battle the 39-year-old former Defensive Player of the Year himself, James Harrison.
Still, he should have no problem seeing playing time if he continues to develop on the trajectory that his coaches indicate that he has. We have already heard from multiple different coaches about how few mistakes he has made, with Joey Porter saying that he could count them on one hand.
I think the most telling comment of the offseason about Watt is when Porter told reporters fishing for information that he feels the young player is acclimated. I frankly can’t ever recall hearing a coach describe a rookie as being acclimated to the NFL level during the spring.
This hearkens back to the Steelers’ post-draft press conference, where they intentionally shied away from the ‘raw’ label, not seeing him as raw, but simply inexperienced, and so far, that seems to have been an apt distinction to make.
Already he is showing positive attributes in all areas, including his get-off at the line of scrimmage, and even his abilities in coverage—which, as a former tight end, might not be the greatest of all shocks. Still, there will always be a learning curve in that area of the game for rookies, especially ones who are relatively new to their position.
All the positive press in the world during May and June will mean little, however, if it doesn’t continue to mount in July and August, and then translate to the field in September and beyond. Everything that we have heard about Watt up to this point has been in his favor, but he knows as well as anybody how much more work there is to put in.