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: Keion Adams
Stock Value: Up
Evaluation Type: Minor, Long-Term
Reason: Depth, Quality of Reps
The Steelers are soon on their way to Latrobe, and as they head there, second-year outside linebacker Keion Adams still appears to be in good position as he angles his way toward a roster spot. After spending his rookie season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, the seventh-round pick is slotted as essentially the number four on the depth chart.
With the starting positions occupied by T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, and Anthony Chickillo at least for now in the number three role, the Steelers have not really added to the outside linebacker position this offseason. In fact, they’ve subtracted.
The team carried five outside linebackers on the 53-man roster for most of the 2017 season, James Harrison making it most of the way but eventually being granted his request for a release when a need for a roster spot opened thanks to rookie cornerback Cameron Sutton coming off of injured reserve.
Also on the roster was Arthur Moats, who remains a free agent. While the door is supposedly still open for his return, the fact that they have not come calling upon him yet suggests that they are interested in taking the wait and see approach.
And in that case, they are really waiting on Adams, who offered a glimpse of talent in his small handful of training camp practices during his rookie year before he had to be shut down due to injury. While he is not uncontested for a roster spot—there is rookie college free agent Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and 2017 practice squad player Farrington Huguenin, he is likely the clear favorite.
That was reflected in the fact that he spent nearly the entirety of the spring practices running with the second-team unit along with Chickillo and playing behind the starters. The Steelers certainly seem to have a high opinion of him; otherwise it would be difficult to explain their lackadaisical approach to addressing the depth at the position, arguably the most important in a 3-4 defense.
Given the lack of depth ahead of him, Adams should be in for quite a bit of high-quality reps, both during training camp and in the preseason. The Steelers will have no trouble getting a good look at him over the next several weeks provided that he is healthy.