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: TE Xavier Grimble
Stock Value: Up
The Steelers have spent the past three years taking a pretty good look at the tight ends available in the draft, ever since Heath Miller retired and Matt Spaeth was released with a failed physical (I assume he formally retired as well).
And yet they haven’t drafted a tight end since they selected Jesse James back in 2015, though they’ve used other means of acquiring talent at the position. They tried unrestricted free agency in 2016 with Ladarius Green, but his injuries prevented him from helping and he appears to be out of the league now after dealing with concussions.
Most recently, they tried the trade route, something they’re evidently into all of a sudden. They made several trades late in the preseason last year, and made two trades during the draft this year. One of those 2017 trades was for Vance McDonald, who looks to become the team’s top tight end this year.
As for Xavier Grimble, he has spent most of his career clinging to his spot on the 53-man roster. Pittsburgh avoiding the tight end position despite showing some interest gives him a much greater chance of sticking for the third straight season in 2018.
Not that it will be guaranteed by any means. He plays sparsely as it is—the team often uses an extra lineman over him—and he will also receive competition from Jake McGee, a tight end who spent the 2017 season on the practice squad. They could even decide to keep only two true tight ends and find roles for Roosevelt Nix and Jaylen Samuels, with the extra lineman worked in as well.
Grimble has always been a player that the team has liked a lot on the practice field, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together in games. He makes the occasional impressive play both as a receiving option and as a blocker, but not enough the give him security. A draft pick at the tight end position could have been a virtual assurance that his time ran out.