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: Artie Burns
Stock Value: Down
Evaluation Type: Minor, Moderate-Term
Reason: Performance, Competition
Everybody knows that year three is a big year for NFL players. Many tend to take their biggest steps forward in their third season as they typically fall into a groove, gaining experience as the game slows down for them.
Cornerback Artie Burns is heading into that critical third season, his second as a full-time starter, although he has been playing since the opening game of his rookie year, starting as the dime back, then working into the nickel before taking over a starting job halfway through the year.
So Burns certainly has a good deal of experience under his belt already, and the playing time as well. He should physically, mentally, and emotionally be prepared to have the best season of his career. But according to the beat writers, he didn’t look like a player about to have a breakout campaign during the spring.
Not that he outright looked poor or anything like that, but the indication was that he didn’t appear to be showing many signs of growth from where he had previously been, which is obviously a concern. While I believe him to be a flawed but competent cornerback as is, they drafted him to become much more than competent.
Even Bob Labriola noted that Burns could possibly face a challenger for his starting spot in training camp, that being second-year cornerback Cameron Sutton. It’s not clear if the Steelers actually intend for that training camp battle to take place, but it’s certainly a reasonable possibility.
Of course there isn’t a lot for us to learn about veteran players in the spring. We start to learn a lot more once they get to Latrobe. Burns can show up and really shine, for all we know. New defensive backs coach Tom Bradley may play a key part in that. but time will tell.