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: T Jerald Hawkins
Stock Value: Even
You can feel free to disagree if you want, and let me know in the comments section, but my guess is that the seventh-round selection of Derwin Gray doesn’t have much of any effect on Jerald Hawkins’ status for the 2019 season, and if there is anything beyond that.
The 2016 fourth-round draft pick is heading into his fourth season, a contract year, after spending two of his first three years on injured reserve, including in 2018, sidelined roughly a year ago early in OTAs. He was supposed to be the swing tackle, and would likely have started most of last season given Marcus Gilbert’s injuries, but of course that opportunity wen to Matt Feiler.
Now those two, along with 2018 third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor, will battle it out for the starting right tackle position, and the two who lose figure to be the Steelers’ reserves at tackle. If Feiler wins the job, however, things get more interesting because he has also been one of the team’s two interior reserves. If more than one injury occurs, he would have to move over unless the Steelers add another interior lineman, or expand a player’s versatility.
Gray is, more realistically, going to be competing for a spot on the practice squad, with his best chance of making the roster being if Feiler wins. It’s likely that the team is going to try to work him at both guard and tackle even though he only played tackle up to this point.
But he, and Hawkins in theory, would already be competing with R.J. Prince and Patrick Morris, a pair of 2018 college free agents with interior versatility that the team carried on the practice squad all year and are somewhat high on.
In other words, there are already enough players in the mix to the point where I don’t see Gray’s infusion making much of a difference, at least based on the odds. Of course if he steps in and impresses so much that he forces his way onto the roster, that could conceivably cost Hawkins his job, but the odds of that happening are low enough that I didn’t think it warranted labeling his stock as down.