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: RB Jaylen Samuels
Stock Value: Down
I debated on how to put this, but I decided to take the longitudinal approach and make the argument that the drafting of Benny Snell lowers the stock of second-year running back Jaylen Samuels. It might not really take shape right away, or even during the 2019 season, but at some point one would have to figure that their plan is to get Snell some carries.
It’s unclear what the immediate plan is going forward. While General Manager Kevin Colbert seemed to hint in recent weeks that they would like to use a more running back by committee approach, Head Coach Mike Tomlin has been less forthcoming about such intentions, and the reality of his coaching history suggests that it could be a false hope.
So it’s still far from unknown what we are going to see going forward, but likely it’s going to be driven by what the running backs do. With three potentially capable running backs, though, it’s likely that Samuels is not going to have the same long-term backup role that he ended up with by the end of his rookie season.
The fact that he has a skill set that sets him a bit apart from James Conner and Snell, however, should mean that he will retain some sort of role in the offense as a pass-catcher even if we assume that Snell ultimately becomes Conner’s primary backup and the change-of-pace back. He could even be used in the two-minute offense.
But the ultimate takeaway from the addition of the Kentucky plow is that Samuels’ future is probably going to be heading toward more of a specialist role. The reality is that he has always been more of a specialist, far from a workhorse sort. Snell, in contrast, has been exactly that.