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: Roosevelt Nix
Stock Value: Up
Evaluation Type: Moderate, Long-Term
Reason: Long-Term Contract
It’s 2018 and the Pittsburgh Steelers gave a fullback a long-term contract. Really? Where is Dan Kreider hiding? Did they know who they were signing?
Of course fullback is not the only position at which the Steelers value Roosevelt Nix, a former undrafted free agent who initially was signed as a linebacker, as he enters his fourth season. He broke onto the 53-man roster a few years back because he demonstrated the ability to be a positive and active contributor on special teams, blocking a punt in the preseason and then forcing a fumble on a kickoff.
Special teams was his path to a roster spot, a fact of which he was well aware, but the Steelers used him a lot as a fullback during his first preseason with the team and then just…never really stopped using him. All of a sudden they decided that they had a fullback and that they would use him.
Their two most recent ‘fullbacks’ prior to Nix were David Johnson and Will Johnson, neither of whom were true fullbacks nor tight ends, but rather a bit in between. As evidenced by the fact that he just made the Pro Bowl, however, Nix is a cut above at his job.
And they rewarded him in good faith as he entered his restricted free agency year by signing him to a modest four-year contract that gives him some long-term stability, which is something that most fullbacks in this era of the NFL can only dream of.
Not that he can’t be cut, of course, but it’s not as though the team would release him in order to save money. It would have to be because they really need his roster spot to keep another player at another position, but I can’t see that happening either.
Nix is one of the most well-liked players on the team, not just by the fans, but by his teammates as well. I recall reading one anecdote from OTAs in which rookie quarterback Mason Rudolph was off-target on a pass to the fullback. His teammates chastised the young quarterback for screwing up one of the fullback’s very rare opportunities to flash the hands his position coach, James Saxon, boasts about.