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: Tyler Matakevich
Stock Value: Up
Evaluation Type: Minor, Short-Term
Reason: Consistent First-Team Work
It’s time to update Tyler Matakevich’s stock once again. It was news when the Steelers failed to sign any of the top inside linebackers in the free agent class, but at least, the thought was, they were able to sign Jon Bostic.
It was needs when the Steelers went through the entire draft without taking an inside linebacker. It was news, again, when they seemingly showed no interest in Mychal Kendricks. It was also news when the Steelers talked about Matakevich in serious terms as a defensive player.
So it continued to be news when he was the first player to take reps with the first-team defense when spring practices opened several weeks ago, and I wrote about him then. But now, we are into the summer break, and the reality is that he is still the first-team inside linebacker.
That’s not to say that that will not change. But I guarantee that there isn’t a single person who follows the team who would have said after the draft that Matakevich was going to take all the Steelers’ reps with the first-team defense heading into training camp over Bostic.
That’s a longer look at this time of year than anybody expected him to be given, and that lends credence to the idea that the team is very seriously leaving open the option that he will be a starter for the team this season over Bostic. I don’t think it’s realistic at this point to deny that it is at least a possibility the team is entertaining.
You don’t sign a player with the absolute intention of him being your starting player without qualification and then not give him any work with the first-team unit before training camp. That’s just not something any reasonable team would do. Maybe with a draft pick, but not a veteran. It doesn’t make sense.
Bostic could very well be the starter by the time the season starts. Most I’m sure still consider him the odds-on favorite, and I might include myself in that group. But the Steelers are taking Matakevich as an option seriously, so you probably should be too, whether you like the idea or not.