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: Jake McGee
Stock Value: Down
Well, we have to do the obvious, don’t we? First-year tight end Jake McGee quite clearly saw his stock plummet two days ago when he suffered what is believed to be a season-ending injury during a non-contact drill in OTAs this week, tearing his Achilles.
McGee was signed during training camp last offseason in order to replace Scott Orndoff, a rookie undrafted free agent tight end who had gotten injured. McGee performed well during the season and even got special mention from Head Coach Mike Tomlin for his impressive blocking performances.
Even though he was something of a proverbial ‘camp body’ signing, he ended up making an impact and spent the entire season on the practice squad in 2017 with a legitimate shot of moving on to the 53-man roster this year.
Should he have succeeded, he likely would have unseated a player who followed a very similar path. Xavier Grimble was an undrafted free agent who struggled initially to even stay on a practice squad. Then he had a year on the Steelers’ and made the jump to the 53-man roster the following year. Though his job security had been tenuous, he has been there for two years now, and it looks more likely than ever that he’ll make that three years.
I think the question that we will have to see now is just how much the Steelers really like McGee. Will they simply waive him with an injury designation and move on from him, possibly looking to revisit him whenever he gets healthy, or will they try to stick with him and place him on a reserve list.
The fact that this injury happened so early in the offseason makes keeping him around in that capacity much more complicated. When they hung on to Eli Rogers, his injury at least came about a week into training camp, but we’re just hitting June right now.
Should we have already seen the last of McGee, it would certainly be a disappointment. He looked to have legitimate potential as a two-way tight end capable of contributing both as a blocker and as a pass-catcher.