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: Jordan Dangerfield
Stock Value: Up
Evaluation Type: Minor, Short-Term
Reason: Quality of Reps
The last time I wrote about Jordan Dangerfield and the fact that he was given the opportunity to run with the first-team defense during minicamp while starter Morgan Burnett was sidelined with a presumably minor injury, a few people seemed to gather that I was making more of that fact than I ought to.
The notion that I was actually suggesting he could be in line to compete for a starting spot, or even for the top backup job, never even crossed my mind, but nevertheless, the fact that the team chose to allow him to take those reps over Nat Berhe, a veteran, or first-round pick Terrell Edmunds was not an insignificant gesture.
The fact is that the Steelers like Dangerfield as a player, and his chances of making the roster shouldn’t be dismissed just because the team added four safeties this offseason via free agency and the draft. That he was entrusted with those reps—while, granted, being the most experienced body for the system available—was an affirmation of that fact.
Dangerfield was originally an undrafted free agent in 2013. He first signed on with the Steelers in 2014, and has been here every summer since, most notably spending the entirety of the 2016 season on the 53-man roster, making two starts as an injury replacement.
He was on pace to make the roster again last year before suffering an injury in the preseason finale. Two games earlier, he recorded two interceptions and two passes defensed. If not for the injury, the team likely does not go out and trade for J.J. Wilcox.
Dangerfield ended up being placed on injured reserve and shortly later receiving an injury settlement, and he was re-signed to the practice squad after several weeks of healing, staying there for the rest of the year.
In that regard, you can kind of look at him as the Steelers’ only other incumbent at the safety position this year other than Sean Davis after they released the three other safeties from last year’s roster. if he wants to remain around, however, he will have to unseat Berhe or Marcus Allen, a fifth-round rookie, both of whom will be given ample opportunity to earn their roster spots.