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: Sutton Smith
Stock Value: Up
Between some positive feedback from rookie minicamp and the fact that the Steelers were comfortable releasing Keion Adams in spite of a general lack of quality depth, I would argue that the stock value of rookie sixth-round pick Sutton Smith has trended mildly up since he was added to the roster last month.
Smith is the second rookie draft pick that I am covering in this series following Devin Bush to date, though I also covered college free agent kicker Matthew Wright based on the team’s decision to release the other kicker on the roster not named Chris Boswell, that being Matt McCrane, who was on the roster for Week 17 last season.
When the coaches talked about him after the draft, there seemed to be just a tinge of uncertainty about what his long-term position will be, though both Keith Butler and Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert said during and after the draft that they would begin working him at outside linebacker.
His college tape reveals a pass rusher who has a repertoire and a plan, which is a great foundation from which to build. He also has speed, and he showed those qualities in very limited work during rookie minicamp over the weekend, leading some observers to comment on him.
Following the minicamp, the Steelers signed another undrafted free agent edge defender and released Adams, a 2017 seventh-round draft pick who had previously shown promise but never spent time on the 53-man roster. He was on injured reserve in 2017 and then on the practice squad a year ago.
Still, he is a more established player than most of their depth. The only players behind the starters are Anthony Chickillo and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, the latter of whom hardly played during his rookie season. One would think that they might want to at least carry Adams into camp for the competition, even if they don’t see him likely to make the roster. Which is why I believe it is also an indication of confidence in Smith.