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: Tyson Alualu
Stock Value: Even
Evaluation Type: Minor, Short-Term
Reason: Status Quo
Tyson Alualu is the kind of player that a team doesn’t have to worry about after signing him, either one or off the field. For one thing, he certainly is not going to give you any problems outside of the facility, and he is more likely to help others stay out of trouble, if anything.
On the field, he seems to take care of himself very well. Entering his ninth season, he has never missed a game due to injury—even if he somewhat ironically missed some practice time last spring for that very reason.
But the fact of the matter is that he was ready when called upon, and that came almost immediately when Stephon Tuitt was injured on the second snap of the season. He had to finish up that game and start the next two—and then two more—as Tuitt’s injury replacement.
At the end of the year, he was rewarded one more start, getting the opportunity to spell Cameron Heyward in the season finale. The Steelers clinched the division and a first-round bye, so rested several starters, Heyward among them. Alualu responded with a career-high two sacks.
The truth is that Alualu is probably the best run-defender on the entire defense, not even just along the defensive line. He is strong and stout, but also has pretty light feet for his size. While it doesn’t get him very far in the pass rush, it’s enough to work his way through or around blocks to make the necessary tackles against the run.
The former Jaguar is the best depth that the Steelers have had in a while, and it’s actually somewhat of a shame that he is only under contract for one more season. He was worth every penny that they paid him last season, and frankly they get pretty thin at that position after him, so it’s vital that he remains.
His role should not change this season, though ideally he will play less thanks to improved health from those ahead of him. but the Steelers can rest easy knowing that they have competent depth if necessary. He may lack as a pass rusher, but he won’t make many mistakes and leave the unit exposed.