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: Stephon Tuitt
Stock Value: Up
It’s hard not to trend upward as you get healthier. That is the scenario in which Stephon Tuitt finds himself. The former second-round pick only played one snap of his fourth season fully healthy, suffering an arm injury that affected him for the rest of the year, and that was reflected in his statistics.
2017 was supposed to be a breakout year for him. Maybe if would have been had it not been for that injury. We’ll never know at this point. But now 2018 can be that year. The table should be set for him to be successful. The only reasons he might fail are either injury or simply not being as good as we thought.
Tuitt is every bit as physically gifted as his partner, Cameron Heyward, who is coming off a first-team All-Pro campaign. Heyward himself just proved that you can dominate only a year following an injury-plagued season, and Tuitt is hoping to follow his example, but he knows the kind of work it takes to make that possible.
To that end, he seems to have come into OTAs in very good shape. A slimmer playing weight might even be an asset for him to clean up the few areas of his game in which he struggles. His primarily difficulty has been in finishing plays, both tackles and sacks. Greater mobility and range should help to cut down those numbers—as should being healthy and having full range of motion in both of your arms.
Both of these men are among the highest-paid players at their position, and it is now time for them to play as the dominant pair they are capable of being. It should be tremendously difficult for opposing offenses to operate with Heyward and Tuitt generating pressure in the middle and clogging lanes. Disruption is the name of the game.
It will be interesting to see what if anything changes schematically with Karl Dunbar having been brought in to coach the defensive line. Tuitt has said that things are going well so far under the new coach, but it was too early to really talk about the way things might differ from the past.