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: S Marcus Allen
Stock Value: Up
The first few days of the draft saw us focusing on the players on the current roster whose value seemingly took a hit relative to what the Steelers did over the weekend. Today I will turn my focus to one player who benefitted from the team’s moves, and perhaps that applies to nobody better than second-year safety Marcus Allen.
A fifth-round pick taken in the same class as first-round starter Terrell Edmunds, and on a depth chart that for a while included a total of six players at his position, Allen spent almost all of his rookie season on the inactive list, dressing only for two games and receiving a meaningful role in only one of them.
The Steelers selected him because of how highly they rated him and the fact that he was still available in the fifth round (they had no fourth-round pick last year), so it was based almost purely on value even though they already had six safeties that they liked, which at the time included J.J. Wilcox still.
One of the reasons that he did not get many opportunities to even dress was because he spent so much of the offseason watching from the sidelines due to minor injuries rather than developing. He missed virtually all of the spring, getting injured in rookie minicamp, and was sidelined for a while in training camp as well.
Since the end of the season, however, they have parted with Nat Berhe and released Morgan Burnett, the two safeties they signed in free agency in 2018, and retain only the other four from the roster that year. They did not draft anybody, though they have signed two as college free agents.
On top of that, Head Coach Mike Tomlin specifically discussed Allen in particular in his post-draft comments in referencing players on the current roster who were primed to compete for a larger role in 2019.
Allen figures to be a prime candidate, perhaps even the frontrunner, to assume the dimebacker role that at times was occupied by Burnett, Berhe, and Cameron Sutton last season before it finally fell to him as injuries mounted. The fact that they didn’t add any free agents or draft picks there only strengthens his opportunity to gain such a responsibility.