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: Maurkice Pouncey
Stock Value: Even
Evaluation Type: Minor, Long-Term
Reason: Long-Term Consistency
2018 is just another season for Maurkice Pouncey, who is heading into his ninth season despite the fact that he will only turn 29 later this month. The 2010 first-round draft pick has done to the Pro Bowl now seven times in his seven healthy seasons and remains a quality player regardless of how Pro Football Focus had him ranked a season ago.
While I do happen to agree at least that he had something of a down season by his standards—as reflected by the fact that he did not actually make the All-Pro team—he certainly remains among the better centers in the NFL. For those curious, the site gave him a poor grade overall, but one of the higher grades among centers in pass protection. Apparently they were not impressed with his run-blocking last season.
This isn’t about PFF though. I just thought it would be worth mentioning because it would probably be brought up in the comments section.
Truly, the biggest news for Pouncey is the fact that he has been healthy for two seasons. From 2013 to 2015, he suffered to severe, season-ending injuries that threatened to derail his career, if not end it. The 2015 injury in particular proved to be dire, suffering a fractured fibula that got infected and required more than half a dozen surgical procedures.
I remain optimistic that Pouncey is still capable of playing not just at a high level, but at an elite level, matching what I believe to be his best season of 2014. While he had his struggles this past season on his more athletically challenging assignments, I do not believe it was for a want of athleticism or skill.
The veteran center has two years left on his current contract, which would take him through 10 seasons in the NFL. How much more might he play beyond that? Perhaps only Ben Roethlisberger can determine that.