The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2017 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Nevertheless, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Mike Hilton
Experience: 1 Year
Mike Hilton has for some legitimately become their favorite player on the Steelers. You have a running start when you have an underdog story, of course, but you still have to perform, and Hilton definitely did that during his first official NFL season.
Originally an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss in 2016 by the Jaguars, he failed to make their 53-man roster, spent a few days on New England’s practice squad, and then close out that year on Pittsburgh’s before making the roster a year later.
He had a strong run all through the spring and summer, catching the eye of coaches, teammates, and beat writers alike, and put it all together in the preseason by making run stops, showing strong on the blitz, holding his own in coverage, and making tackles on special teams.
The Steelers were confident enough in what they saw from him that they let him rotate with William Gay in the slot to start the opening game of the season, but by halftime they left him in the slot full-time, and he held onto that job for the rest of the season.
According to Pro Football Focus’ numbers, Hilton was targeted a fair amount, but not for a lot of damage. He is credited with 46 targets and 32 receptions surrendered, which is a high ratio, but those 32 receptions produced only 281 yards and a quarterback rating of 74.6
He did get away with some things in coverage, admittedly, and he does miss some tackles, but his best quality is the completeness of his game. He had 12 stops against the run to go along with four sacks and other pressures, and he also managed to collect a couple of interceptions.
The question is whether or not Hilton is already close to his ceiling, which does concern me a bit. He will still grow some through experience and learning tendencies, but others will learn his tendencies as well, and he may not be as lucky in the future. He is a physical player, but his size still limits him.