Now that the 2019 NFL Draft is underway, 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: ILB Jon Bostic
Stock Value: Down
The addition of Devin Bush firmly plants Jon Bostic outside of the top three players at the inside linebacker position, behind Vince Williams and Mark Barron, the two players who will likely open the season as starters unless Bush is already able to earn a spot by then.
Sitting outside of the top three, and failing to be a primary contributor on special teams, Bostic will run the risk of failing to make the 53-man roster in 2019, though at least as things currently stand he should still be inside the bubble. It’s far from uncommon for them to carry five inside linebackers.
He would figure to be number five right now, however, with Tyler Matakevich being a primary and high-level special teams contributor. As mentioned, if you’re not a starter, rotational player, or primary backup, you’re going to need to be a primary special teams player or a clearly ascending young player.
Things could get worse for Bostic as the draft goes on, because the Steelers might not necessarily be done adding inside linebackers. And the deeper other positions get around him, as well, the less likely they will be to carry five inside linebackers. If they have to carry 11 defensive backs, for example, it would be difficult to carry a fifth inside linebacker who doesn’t offer much on special teams.
That’s not to suggest that anybody should be rooting for Bostic to be run off the roster. He still represents quality depth as a number four defensive player, and his $2.5 million cap hit—of which $700,000 is from a signing bonus proration—is far from exorbitant for a backup. Arthur Moats a couple of years ago made over $3 million as a backup.
Still, it’s common for the Steelers to release a veteran after the draft based on who was selected. After they drafted Joshua Dobbs in 2017, for example, they released quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who finally won his first professional game earlier this year in the AAF. When they drafted two safeties last year, they released J.J. Wilcox. Bostic right now is a fair candidate to suffer the same fate.