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: Sold
It’s not necessarily a huge surprise, but the Steelers’ decision to waive 2017 seventh-round pick Keion Adams was the most notably move that they made yesterday in a total of 10 transactions consisting of five signings and five releases.
Adams, who came out of Western Michigan the year before Pittsburgh drafted Chukwuma Okorafor out of the same school, spent his rookie season on injured reserve after he suffered a shoulder injury early in training camp.
Last season, he was beaten out for a roster spot by Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, a college free agent out of Toledo. Even though Adeniyi spent most of the 2018 season on injured reserve, Adams remained on the practice squad as the Steelers persisted with only three true outside linebackers on the 53-man roster.
That was a bad enough sign as it is, but with the same group being brought back in 2019, the addition of Sutton Smith in the sixth round, and perhaps his subsequent first eye test through rookie minicamp, was enough for the coaching staff to decide that they have seen enough of what Adams is capable of doing and that it would not be enough to suit their needs.
He was replaced by Tuzar Skipper, who played with Adeniyi at Toledo. The college free agent was invited to the Steelers’ rookie minicamp on a tryout basis and was signed yesterday, Adams being released to make room for him. So that’s two Toledo edge defenders who played a role in his release.
Adams played well for the most part during the preseason last year, but the Steelers never really trusted him on special teams, and if you expect to be the number five outside linebacker, it’s pretty much a prerequisite that you do that. In the past, they have shown a willingness to force-feed special teams snaps to an upside player that they like, such as Adrian Robinson, as their number five, but they are clearly convinced that Smith can serve that role better.