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: Stevan Ridley
Stock Value: Down
Evaluation Type: Minor, Moderate-Term
Reason: Quality of Reps
Things haven’t been exactly great for Stevan Ridley over the past year. He wasn’t even on a team until the Steelers signed him late in the 2017 season, and they only brought him in because their rookie backup running back, James Conner, suffered a torn MCL.
Conner is back and looking like the player the team thought he would be, at least without pads on, but the Steelers also brought in another running back in Jaylen Samuels via the fifth round that they have been offering extended looks, telling reporters that he has gotten runs with the first-team offense at times.
So where exactly does that leave Ridley? We haven’t really heard any account of his spring at all. If he has gotten any reps with the first team offense, it surely was not many, especially with the amount of reps they will be wanting to give Conner.
Ridley had a good game in the team’s season finale last season against the Browns, showing enough that the team eventually decided to bring him back on a one-year veteran minimum deal, though they didn’t re-sign him right away.
Is he outside of the bubble at this point, or is it too early to say that there even is a bubble for the running back position? Obviously Samuels has to prove himself in pads first, that goes without saying. But one might think that a veteran back would have a more prominent role up to this point if he were expected to make the team.
Running back is evidently one position in which the Steelers are less concerned about seniority. Just ask Knile Davis, who lost his roster spot to Terrell Watson last year. The fact that the team drafted Samuels was bad for Ridley’s stock, but the fact that the rookie has been showing well and impressing his teammates should have him as concerned as is reasonable about football in shorts.
Still, he should have plenty of opportunities in training camp to stake his claim to a roster spot, even force the team to carry four running backs.