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: Dashaun Phillips
Stock Value: Even
Evaluation Type: Minor, Short-Term
Reason: Depth, Numbers
Dashaun Phillips has been something of a forgotten man at the cornerback position. One of five players for whom the Steelers traded or whom they traded away after the final preseason game, the veteran defensive back was had for an undrafted free agent center that the team had just signed.
That center did not make Washington’s roster, or even practice squad, but Phillips spent the entire season on the Steelers’ practice squad, basically their eighth cornerback once Cameron Sutton returned from injured reserve.
The Steelers did not really add anybody this year at cornerback. They even released William Gay, and there is a pretty reasonable chance that they are not going to keep Coty Sensabaugh and his salary to be the sixth cornerback who will likely not even dress.
If the team does keep a sixth cornerback, which is not guaranteed this year because they have an abundance at safety this time and they are likely to carry five, I do think that Phillips has a solid chance of being that player, which is why I decided to call his stock even.
He is a slot player who can also be a contributor on special teams, so if he does make the team he would be able to be a contributor. It should go without saying that a defensive back toward the bottom of the roster had better be either a raw draft pick or somebody who can contribute on special teams, and Phillips can do that.
With that said, I have not heard his name being mentioned so far this spring. It’s not even clear with what position groups he has been working. Sutton has taken reps in the slot with the second-team defense, but he also works outside when he is outside, who is the cornerback taking the reps out of the slot? I would guess it would be Phillips, but I can’t confirm that.