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: ILB Jon Bostic
Stock Value: Up
We’re spinning the positive today after following a couple of downward trends in the first two installments of our stock watch series for 2018. The ramifications of the 2018 NFL Draft clearly saw the value of J.J. Wilcox (already released) and Joshua Dobbs (roster spot at risk) drop, but the exact opposite happened for Jon Bostic.
Signed via free agency, Bostic seems now to have survived a final thrust to seize his opportunity to start in 2018. The Steelers reportedly attempted to make a trade up in the first round to acquire Alabama inside linebacker Rashaan Evans, but he was drafted several picks earlier by another team that traded up for him after the top three inside linebackers were off the board.
Pittsburgh seemed to be content with moving on with what they have now at inside linebacker after they were unable to acquire one of the top talents in the draft, in a similar fashion to what we saw play out in free agency last offseason.
After Lawrence Timmons walked away, the Steelers offered a contract to Dont’a Hightower, but they were prepared if he declined their offer, which he obviously did. They went into the season with Vince Williams and he had a solid year that included the third-most sacks by an off-ball linebacker in team history for a single season.
Bostic will now by given a chance to start this season, almost assuredly, and possibly even audition for a more long-term role. He is a talented player but has been hindered by a number of obstacles, including a frequent change of coaching regimes, and of course injuries.
Many are still feeling anxious about the inside linebacker position but I think they’re going to find themselves pleasantly surprised by Bostic this year. It’s possible that he ends up being more than just a one-year stop-gap.
One thing I know for sure is that he will be a better option than what they took into the postseason with Sean Spence, who played like a shell of his former self. Bostic had a strong season for the Colts last year, but they changed coaches and schemes this offseason and had young linebackers they drafted, which saw them pass on re-signing him.