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: Stevan Ridley
Stock Value: Even
This is a hard one to evaluate. I considered all three options—up, down, or even—and decided to go for the middle, because I’m weighing a number of different factors here, some of which are immediate and others more long-term.
Ridley, a veteran running back with championship experience and tangible NFL success, was on the couch last season when James Conner suffered a torn MCL, and the Steelers signed him to serve as Le’Veon Bell’s backup for the rest of the season.
While he impressed, the team did wait a bit before actually re-signing him, though re-sign him they did. Then they also used a fifth-round draft pick on Jaylen Samuels, a running back, though not exactly a traditional one according to his college tape.
I want to weigh Samuels against him, and I do, but I actually think that Samuels’ presence makes it a lot more likely that the team carries four running backs and five wide receivers, because they seem to be planning to use the rookie a lot in that role, similar in circumstance to Dri Archer, who was even listed as a running back and wide receiver on the team’s official website while he was on the roster.
That is assuming that Samuels earns a roster spot for himself, which is not a guarantee. The Steelers should have some nice competition at the running back position that will last all throughout the preseason, including others such as Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jarvion Franklin.
What sets Ridley apart is the fact that he is a very experienced back, by far the most experienced behind Bell. He even has a 1000-yard season under his belt and has a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots. While he hasn’t gotten a lot of playing time lately, he didn’t look like he had an empty tank a year ago.
The offseason to date has been neither the best-case nor worst-case scenario for Ridley, but rather somewhere in between, and the fact that Bell will (most likely) be away for all of it will give him plenty of time to claim his spot on the 53-man roster.