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: Xavier Grimble
Stock Value: Up
The timing of this might seem cynical, but it is realistically the ideal time to discuss it, the time in which it is relevant. Steelers first-year tight end Jake McGee is believed to have suffered a season-ending injury yesterday, and that is of benefit to third-year tight end Xavier Grimble and his chances of retaining his spot on the roster.
Not that this has been unfamiliar territory for him. He first made the 53-man roster after sitting on practice squads for years in 2016. The reason that was made possible was because incoming starter Ladarius Green was recovering from offseason ankle surgery and was not ready to play for the first half of the season.
Grimble got to run as the number three tight end during that time, but by the time Green was ready to be activated, the former had the opportunity to show that he was capable of being a contributor. They also had openings on other spots of the roster to bring in the free agent acquisition, so it wasn’t his roster spot that was needed.
McGee was expected to give serious challenge to Grimble for the third tight end role this year. He was signed during training camp in 2017 but played very well during the preseason and spent the entire year on the practice squad, all the while impressing the coaches.
He was considered to have a legitimate shot at making the roster. Now Grimble doesn’t really have any challengers. The only other tight ends on the roster are Pharoah McKever and Christian Scotland-Williamson. The latter is just learning football as an international player from a rugby background.
I was looking forward to seeing a summer competition between Grimble and McGee for the last tight end spot. I thought Grimble needed to be challenged, for one thing. He has made a few plays here and there over the course of his career, but hasn’t really developed much over the past two years. He needs to stay motivated toward progress. The team may try to bring in more meaningful competition as well.