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: Anthony Chickillo
Stock Value: Up
The Steelers could have addressed the outside linebacker position in free agency or the draft. They didn’t. That at least says something about what they think of fourth-year outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo and his ability to contribute to the defense.
While he didn’t log a ton of time after the first few games on defense when he had to start two games, first in place of Bud Dupree and then in T.J. Watt’s absence, Chickillo locked himself into the third wheel role ahead of James Harrison and Arthur Moats.
More or less anytime either Watt or Dupree came off the field for a rest, it was Chickillo who replaced him in the lineup, in large part because the coaching staff trusts him to know his assignment and the position in which he must be to make the play—even if he doesn’t always manage to do that.
As we head into the 2018 season, the odds are that he will continue to be the third outside linebacker behind the starters, and there isn’t a ton of competition behind him at the moment. The only real other options are Keion Adams, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, and Farrington Huguenin, none of whom have NFL experience or have been on a 53-man roster.
There figures to be room for at least one of them, potentially even two depending upon how the roster shapes up, and frankly how well they play, but I think it would take a really good showing for one of them to surpass Chickillo in the coaches’ eyes, even if I don’t particularly feel as though his level of play commands that distinction.
One area in which he is definitely secure is on special teams, a role in which he has become a core player, one of the most valued and versatile members of the unit. He is capable of being a four-way player and usually is high up on the Steelers’ special teams tackles list.
I would like to see him do more with the opportunities he gets on the field this year. I’m not sure he’s necessary to bring back after this year if he doesn’t show more.