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: CB Brian Allen
Stock Value: Up
This might be taken as reaching, but for a player like Brian Allen, sometimes it takes clinging to something to have any hope at all. Allen, a third-year former fifth-round pick, is running out of chances to make it in the NFL as a cornerback, and the Steelers have already shown him that in his case, special teams isn’t enough. He did not make the initial 53-man roster in 2018 and spent several games on the practice squad.
Why? In part because he had a rough preseason during which he was a half a step or so too late from making a handful of plays, which means, in turn, that he gave up a handful of plays instead. That’s just the nature of the position.
He said during that time that he felt he was probably pressing to make some plays to show the coaches that he is capable of delivering, giving them something to seek their teeth into in terms of what his potential is as a player. Not just solid fundamental play, but taking the ball away.
Well, you heard about Joe Haden’s interception on the first play of Seven Shots on the first day of OTAs. Brian Allen also had an interception that day (something that Steven Nelson mentioned in an interview with the team’s website).
He needs to keep making those plays, but getting one early is a good start. Especially for a player fighting for his NFL life. The cornerback position is already, at a minimum, five players deep with Nelson, Haden, Mike Hilton, and Cameron Sutton all firmly entrenched ahead of him, plus the rookie Justin Layne.
Allen may be battling 2016 first-round draft pick Artie Burns for a sixth and final spot on the depth chart, or potentially even lower, depending on who else might emerge or be added to the mix later on in the journey. Making up that half a step that he was lacking last year is the difference, so hopefully this is a positive indication of progression and not a false alarm.
That’s admittedly tenuous at best at the start of OTAs, but it’s what we have to work with right now. And considering the number of interceptions the team dropped last season, just completing even a layup of one at this point probably ought to earn some praise.