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: James Washington
Stock Value: Up
This is the first entry of the offseason in this series that is not directly in response to the ripple effects of the draft, which is appropriate now that we have gone through the Steelers’ rookie minicamp and at least have some first-hand accounts of how things looked on the field.
I don’t think any player received more positive words about how he looked on the field over the past weekend than did second-round wide receiver James Washington, who was made a priority to draft after the team chose to trade Martavis Bryant for a third-round draft pick, which later went toward drafting his college quarterback, Mason Rudolph. Which is another reason for his stock to be up in itself.
Rudolph praised him of course, and the sentiment was reciprocated, but others were talking about Washington as well, such as Marcus Tucker, a wide receiver who has already gone through a couple of rookie minicamps himself and so has a bit of a gauge in terms of what to look for in others.
We have even had interviews from tryout players who offered their thoughts on what they’ve seen from this draft pick or that, and they too have mentioned Washington as a player that stood out to them. Which is good, because he is going to need to stand out on Sundays this fall.
The expectation is that he will immediately enter the third wide receiver role between Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, the latter of whom was last year’s second-round draft pick. If this year’s second-rounder can come anywhere near duplicating that success (at least one analyst has him making the All-Rookie team), then that will be one draft pick well-spent.
Reporters have commented on Washington’s strong hands and most especially his ability to turn upfield and accelerate after the catch. Though he is not the tallest nor the fastest wide receiver, that quick transition from reception to running is what helped him average nearly 20 yards per catch over his four-year college career.