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: Joshua Frazier
Stock Value: Up
Evaluation Type: Minor, Moderate-Term
It’s not very easy to get much of a feel for the performance of certain positions in football before the pads actually come on, and the defensive line group is definitely one area that presents limited evaluation opportunity in such circumstances.
Still, there are things you can learn about a player, especially a rookie, in any context resembling football-like events, and seventh-round pick Joshua Frazier has apparently done well so far. At least, he feels he has, telling reporters that he has had it trickle down to him that the coaches have liked what they have seen from him.
Not that it should be a great surprise, considering the fact that his position coach with the Steelers was also the same man who coached him in college for the past two seasons at Alabama. That is a major, major leg up for a rookie that really cannot be understated.
There was nobody in a better position to evaluate Frazier than Karl Dunbar, whom the Steelers hired this season to coach their defensive linemen. It says a lot that they drafted him, but it would have said even more if they did not. Dunbar obviously signed off on the pick, believing that he is a quality player who can make the roster.
His direct competition will be Daniel McCullers, who despite doing little has been here for four seasons so far, even re-signed this offseason to a one-year, veteran-minimum contract, perhaps just in the case of an injury.
The Steelers are fully expecting Frazier to make the roster, as most of their defensive line draft picks do, but obviously they still need to see what he looks like in pads first. And even if he makes the roster, he still has a way to go before he earns a helmet on game day.
He may have to demonstrate some versatility and pass-rush capability at least equal to L.T. Walton to be able to dress on Sundays. Though the team’s focus on stopping the run should also play in his favor in terms of being active.