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: Matt Feiler
Stock Value: Up
The fact that we learned recently that second-year offensive lineman Matt Feiler was given the opportunity to work at center on Thursday during the team’s first OTA sessions is a bigger deal than some might realize. At least it’s a big deal for Feiler, a player who spent three entire seasons toiling on practice squads before finally earning a place on the 53-man roster.
He is trying to do everything he can to make sure he keeps that spot, and demonstrating his ability to perform at the center position is just another feather in his cap. Should he show any sort of proficiency at center, it would make him capable of playing all positions along the offensive line. He also said last season that he got work in practice as an extra lineman, though he did not serve that role in a game.
The opportunity to carve out a role as an emergency center presented itself when Chris Hubbard signed a lucrative new contract with the Cleveland Browns in free agency. Hubbard ended up starting most of the season at right tackle but has over the course of his career seen snaps in-game at every position along the line, including the role of an extra lineman.
Feiler is not going to make the team as a center, but it will help. “The more you can do”, as they say. And he looked capable of doing some good things last season. In the regular season finale, the Steelers rested David DeCastro, allowing the first-year lineman to start at right guard, and he put on a strong performance.
While he spent nearly all his time at guard last season, he was primarily a tackle previously, including while he was with the Houston Texans in 2014. He saw more work at tackle than guard in his first season with the Steelers in 2015 as well, but his snaps were more mixed in 2016.
He only played left and right guard during the preseason a year ago, but was actually the backup swing tackle during the first half of the season ahead of Jerald Hawkins.