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: Marcus Tucker
Stock Value: Even
Evaluation Type: Minor, Short-Term
Reason: Quality of Reps, Practice Reports
Marcus Tucker is hoping to turn his third offseason into a career. The former undrafted free agent is spending his third summer in Latrobe starting later this month, but rather than winding up on the practice squad, he’s looking to force the Steelers’ hand in committing to him with a spot on the 53-man roster.
There is an opening on the team, at least currently. While the hole left by the trade of Martavis Bryant was quickly filled by the selection of James Washington during the 2018 NFL Draft, Eli Rogers remains a presence from last year’s team that is currently not here.
Should Rogers not be re-signed, Tucker has about as good a chance as anybody of seizing upon that opportunity to push his way onto the roster. The Steelers already like him, enough that he was the first man up this spring, along with Justin Hunter, to run with the first-team offense when JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown missed time.
There were times this spring that the first-team group was working with Washington, Tucker, and Hunter as their three wide receivers. That might not be the most encouraging idea imaginable, but it does look better when you throw Brown and Smith-Schuster back to the front of the list.
There are two things in particular, however, that he has to focus on during training camp and the preseason to raise his chances of making the team. The first and most important is finding ways to make himself useful on special teams. Whether it’s returning or making tackles or covering kicks.
Also important and perhaps less obvious is that he has to gain more familiarity and comfort with working from out of the slot. While it might seem that he is fit for the slot due to his physical profile, he was an outside receiver in college, and even during the preseason a year ago, that is where he played. But he needs that slot versatility at this level.