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: Marcus Tucker
Stock Value: Up
It’s been a pretty good offseason overall for first-year wide receiver Marcus Tucker, who is actually in his third offseason with the Steelers. His first came after he was signed to a contract as a tryout player during rookie minicamp, and he just completed his third such camp with the team, hoping this time to turn it into a contract for the 53-man roster.
He is better-positioned for that role than he has ever been before. He is actually currently one of the longest-tenured wide receivers on the roster behind Antonio Brown and Darrius Heyward-Bey and so has a better understanding of the offense than most.
The trade of Martavis Bryant was a big win for him, even if it’s largely offset by the drafting of James Washington. But they were going to draft a wide receiver anyway, possibly high, and Washington still has a lot to learn. Not that he won’t be on the field.
While unfortunate, Tucker has also benefited from the injury to Eli Rogers, who tore his ACL in the Steelers’ final game of the previous season. While his status could change, he is currently not on the roster, and Tucker is as likely a candidate as any to take his place.
There isn’t a lot that is locked up on the roster behind Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Washington. You have Heyward-Bey and Justin Hunter from last year’s team, and the possibility of Rogers returning, but none of those players are definite locks, so there is an opportunity for Tucker to make his way up the depth chart.
The Steelers are seemingly pretty high on him, and told him to work on his ability to contribute on special teams over the course of the year, which would greatly increase his chances of making the roster. He has spent most of the past two seasons on the practice squad and has made plays in practice, so the coaches are familiar with what he can do, and he did well during minicamp.