The Pittsburgh Steelers have a major set challenges facing them for the offseason of 2019 after they managed to miss the postseason for the first time in five years. The failure has been taken especially grievously because of the fact that the team was in position to control their own fate even for homefield advantage with six games remaining before dropping four games.
And so they find themselves getting the exit meeting process underway at least two weeks earlier than they have had to in years, since they have made it to at least the Divisional Round since 2015. Hopefully they used those extra two weeks with purpose.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2018 season.
Player: Jaylen Samuels
Position: Running Back
Experience: 1 Year
I think it’s fair to say that the Steelers got more out of Jaylen Samuels over the course of his rookie season than perhaps they would have anticipated or projected. Obviously that is largely due to the fact that James Conner suffered a high ankle sprain late in the season, but the reality is that Samuels put himself in the position to be the backup by that point.
A fifth-round pick out of North Carolina State who played without a true, fixed position, Samuels came to the Steelers with the need to essentially learn the running back position. He caught more passes than he had rushing attempts in college, and a large number of his rushing attempts were pitches into open space.
But provided that he continues to evolve and grow as a runner inside the tackle box, it would be fair to say that that effort has served him well, because one of the best attributes he has shown in his rookie season was the ability to force tacklers to miss in space.
This is in spite of the fact that he is a larger-bodied player for his height, and not necessarily fast, either. Samuels has openly talked about both his need and his desire to slim down this offseason to improve his speed, as Conner and Le’Veon Bell both did before him.
He has been very clear and direct over the course of his first season about two things: what he needs to improve upon, and what he believes he’s capable of doing. He has consistently displayed confidence in himself and his abilities, but also humble enough to understand the work that goes into being the best player he can be.
I’m not about to pen him in for a Pro Bowl any time soon, but Samuels showed some encouraging things as both a runner and receiver—though not as a blocker—which leads me to believe that he could be a number two back in the league, and one who gets meaningful touches.