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: OLB Keion Adams
Stock Value: Down
If you’re a non-rookie player who’s never been on the 53-man roster before and your team drafts a player at your position, even a late-round flier, your stock is going to be down. I think that Keion Adams’ stock is even more in jeopardy with the drafting of Sutton Smith than might normally be the case in similar situations, though, and for one primary reason: special teams.
Adams, a seventh-round pick out of Western Michigan in 2017, spent his rookie season on injured reserve, suffering a shoulder injury before the preseason, and then spent 2018 on the practice squad even though the team only carried three true outside linebackers on the 53-man roster for most of the year.
Not only are all four outside linebackers from last season—including Olasunkanmi Adeniyi—returning in 2019, they also added Smith, whom they actively spoke of as a prime candidate to be a strong contributor on special teams.
In contrast, Adams, who actually had a pretty solid preseason overall, logged a whopping 10 snaps on special teams throughout the preseason, five of which came in the preseason finale, and four of those snaps overall were on the field goal-blocking unit, which is not enough for a linebacker to earn a roster spot. He saw just one snap on coverage units.
During his rookie year, Adeniyi was not much of a special teams contributor either, but he was also the clearly superior player between himself and Adams. If his best shot of making the roster is outplaying Adeniyi and knocking him to the practice squad, I’m not going to give him great odds of seeing that happen.
More or less, I think it will take Smith failing to show any level of effectiveness on special teams during the preseason in order for Adams to have much of any chance of making the roster, and even if that does happen, his path toward a roster spot is far from being a straight line. He has a lot of work ahead of him.