Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: CB Artie Burns
Stock Value: Even
Nothing that has happened this offseason, I think, changed where third-year cornerback Artie Burns stands in any capacity. The former first-round draft pick who just turned 23 soon after the 2018 NFL Draft is entering his second season as a full-time starter and third season overall.
And there doesn’t really appear to be any meaningful contention to prevent him from continuing in the role he has owned since the middle of his rookie season. While there is some thought that the team briefly considered benching him or allowing 2018 rookie Cameron Sutton to rotate with him late in the season, I’m not expecting that there will be an open competition for the starting right cornerback position this summer opposite Joe Haden.
That could certainly prove to be wrong—only time will tell—but I would not be counting on it. The Steelers, for one thing, are inclined to give their early draft picks a fair amount of leeway in order to ensure that they have an accurate read on who they are as players before making long-term personnel decisions.
A frequent criticism from a past era was that young players were not getting on the field fast enough so that by the time they did, they were about to hit free agency. This is what happened with Keenan Lewis, who worked in the slot his third season and then started in year four as a restricted free agent, parlaying that into a sizable deal in free agency.
It would be folly to assume that we have seen everything that there is to see about who Burns is on the field during his first two seasons, after he was drafted as an underclassman that was not purely a one-sport athlete and who was taken off the field in some situations.
There is still a lot to this young man—again, he just turned 23—that we don’t know about. The Steelers this offseason in avoiding the cornerback position have set up the ideal scenario to allow that learning process to continue.