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: Brian Allen
Stock Value: Up
The Steelers took a chance on Brian Allen in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft a year ago in the hopes that it would pay off and he would develop quite a bit. The 6’3” cornerback was a wide receiver before converting late in his college career to the defensive side of the ball.
He got a redshirt year on defense last season, but carved out a role for himself on special teams, particularly becoming a mainstay on the punt units, as a jammer on the return team and a gunner on the coverage team.
But he didn’t sign up for football to play on special teams, and is looking to make the jump to seeing time on defense. He knows there’s a lot of work he needs to put in to allow that to happen, but a year under his belt, he is already seeing the difference.
He recently talked to the team’s website during OTAs and said that he feels as though he’s been playing cornerback all his life now. He also talked about new defensive backs coach Tom Bradley and how his detail-oriented approach was an asset.
I haven’t really seen many comments from teammates and coaches yet about his progress this offseason, but at least for himself, he seems to feel much more comfortable in his second season, thinking less and playing with more aggression.
Still, being more ready for playing time is not the same thing as seeing more playing time. He figures to head into training camp, at best, as the fifth cornerback on the depth chart behind Artie Burns, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, and his draft classmate, Cameron Sutton.
Though he spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve, Sutton ended up getting playing time toward the end of the season and even started a game while Haden was injured, moving past Coty Sensabaugh on the depth chart. Allen must also make sure that he is clear of Sensabaugh on the depth chart, lest he risk somehow not making the team, but I don’t see that happening.