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: Jon Bostic
Stock Value: Down
We all pretty much immediately assumed when the Steelers signed him that Jon Bostic was obviously going to be the team’s starting mack linebacker. He might still be the favorite for that job (or he might not, either), but we now know that it’s not a role that is simply going to be handed to him.
Not because the team is down on him, but rather that they are high on Tyler Matakevich, who is being given the opportunity to compete for a starting job. He has been primarily running with the first-team defense through the first week-plus of OTAs, for example, and told reporters yesterday that he felt as though it was his job to lose.
Matakevich is heading into his third season, all with the Steelers, while Bostic was a free agent addition who is in the process of learning the defense. According to reports, Matakevich’s teammates have been impressed with his play so far during OTAs.
The former seventh-round pick had shoulder surgery in the offseason and played through most of the season with that injury, which he aggravated in the same game in which Ryan Shazier suffered a severe spinal injury, which prevented him from getting the opportunity to be the start for the rest of the year.
Now he is getting an extended look in the summer for that role, at Bostic’s expense. I’m sure that Bostic will be given his opportunity to get extended action in practice running with the first-team defense, but as of now that does not appear to have happened.
The Steelers didn’t sign him to a contract worth $2 million a year thinking that he had to start in order to justify the money. That’s not what you go out and pay a starter from another team without having competition. See tackle Ryan Harris from a couple of years ago.
I still believe in what Bostic is capable of doing in this defense and am operating under the assumption that he will be the starter by the time the regular season begins because he will earn the job, but as of this writing, he has yet to do so. Hence his stock has fallen since the draft.