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: Marcus Allen
Stock Value: Down
Evaluation Type: Minor, Short-Term
It’s time to update the stock of Marcus Allen as we wait for training camp to start in…too long from now. The fifth-round rookie missed the majority of the spring, telling reporters that he suffered a hamstring injury back in rookie minicamp, and the Steelers basically haven’t had him on the field since.
Now, this might not be quite as bad as when certain rookies were not allowed to be with the team because they had to finish their school year (under old NFL rules that were recently changed), because at least he is able to be around and take mental reps and generally learn the defense. But those are important reps.
Especially for a relatively late-round draft pick. As much as it might seem like it, Allen is not guaranteed to make the 53-man roster right now. Just because the Steelers valued him higher than where they drafted him doesn’t mean that that evaluation is going to carry him to a roster spot.
A good way for a player in his situation to miss out on a roster spot is to miss a lot of practice time. Just ask Terry Hawthorne or Shaquille Richardson. Richardson was even a player that former defensive backs coach Carnell Lake recruited to play for him while he was at UCLA.
The Steelers have a group full of safeties that they like, right down to the bottom of the roster, with Jordan Dangerfield and Malik Golden both being players that they have maintained interest in over multiple seasons. Golden was Allen’s teammate at Penn State. He may have been on the practice squad if he did not get injured in the final preseason game.
There are at least three safeties guaranteed to make the roster with Sean Davis, Morgan Burnett, and Terrell Edmunds occupying the top of the depth chart. Free agents tend to make it as well, especially those who contribute on special teams, that being Nat Berhe in this case, replacing Robert Golden.
Assuming Berhe is a lock—and he isn’t—that leaves one roster spot open. Allen will be the frontrunner, provided that he too can contribute on special teams, but it’s not guaranteed, and he can’t afford to miss practice time in training camp and fall behind either.