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: OL Matt Feiler
Stock Value: Up
As we move further and further on from the draft and have covered most of the direct ramifications for different players stemming from the Steelers’ moves made during that three-day period, we are also going to move on and look to broader evaluations of stock value, as we did with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger yesterday.
We will look at offensive lineman Matt Feiler today, who took a big step forward last season and now finds himself in position to fend for a full-time starting job, at least for the 2019 season. That opportunity was made possible by the Steelers’ decision to trade eight-year starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert earlier this offseason following two years of injuries, with a suspension thrown in for good measure.
Feiler started 10 of the 11 games that Gilbert missed, and he pretty consistently played above the line, but the team wouldn’t have made the decision to trade their regular starter unless they felt that they had both a starter in waiting as well as quality depth.
So the third-year player will be competing against Chukwuma Okorafor, entering his second season as a former third-round pick, as well as Jerald Hawkins, who was supposed to be the next man up in 2018 before an injury in OTAs took him down for the year.
Given the fact that he played well as a starter in 10 games last year, Feiler would have to be considered the early favorite, or the front-runner, to win the job. Coming out of the draft a year ago, he was looking likely to be just the number two interior reserve behind B.J. Finney, so that is a major change of fortune in a year’s time.