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: TE Xavier Grimble
Stock Value: Up
Let’s continue the theme of discussing players whose stock value rose in the wake of the team’s movements during the 2019 NFL Draft, moving on from safety Marcus Allen after the Steelers took now players at his position to fourth-year tight end Xavier Grimble.
Thought the Steelers did add a tight end over the weekend in the fifth round with Michigan product Zach Gentry, this should be seen as a vote of confidence in Grimble, as the team could have certainly addressed the position earlier in the draft after losing a key player like Jesse James in free agency.
And more to the point, they could have taken a player who is better-equipped to contribute right away in all phases, which is not the case for Gentry, something that General Manager Kevin Colbert spoke pretty plainly about. At 6’8”, he can surely catch some passes, but he will be limited in what he is asked to do, most likely, as a rookie.
That means Grimble should command the majority of the snaps as the number two tight end behind Vance McDonald, the most significant role of his career. A former undrafted free agent who toiled away on multiple teams’ practice squads for a couple of years, including Pittsburgh’s, before finally making a team in 2016, he has never been more than a number three, but has been given niche packages in which he is featured as a run-blocker.
Now he should spend much more time pairing with McDonald when the Steelers use two-receiver sets while Gentry gets a year to develop. Gentry came to Michigan as a quarterback, so he is still learning the position and has all of 49 receptions to his name.
Personally, I suspect that I believe in Grimble more than most. I think he is more than capable of churning out a serviceable performance both as a receiver and as a blocker. In the latter phase, he is and has been the most powerful blocker at the position on the roster for several years, though consistency can always be enhanced, the same being said for just about every player on the fringes of a roster or a starting job.