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: Christian Scotland-Williamson
Stock Value: Even
Evaluation Type: Moderate, Short-Term
Reason: Quality of Reps
The Steelers were one of a handful of teams this offseason who were assigned an international player that they could have on their roster with an exemption. Pittsburgh’s international player is tight end Christian Scotland-Williamson, who had never played football before, coming from a rugby background.
From the scattered reports that I have read mentioning him so far this offseason, he is said to look like a rugby player playing football. That is not necessarily good, nor explicitly bad, and generally what should be expected.
Scotland-Williamson is basically learning the game of football as we go along. He’s not just a first-year player—he’s new to football. Even Chukwuma Okorafor took up football by the time he was in high school and had a college career. Imagine your introduction to football being practicing with an NFL team.
The young man—he is 25—does offer intriguing size, at a colossal 6’9” and weighing in a 274 pounds. That is certainly a big body at tight end, but realistically, they have no idea what he can do. As with all the other young and inexperienced players, this past month or so was all about learning.
It will be something when he puts the pads on for the first time. will he know how to use his size to his advantage? Will he be like Phazahn Odom last year, who could never fully embrace the physical aspect of the position?
It should go without saying that the odds of Scotland-Williamson ever playing in an NFL regular season game are fairly low, but it’s not impossible. The beauty of the international player program is that the Steelers can keep him around without penalty as an extra spot on the practice squad.
The only thing they really have to decide is whether or not they feel it’s worth attempting to develop him. We’re still a few months off from learning the answer to that. But what a success story it would be.