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: Up
Yes, we’re doing Jaylen Samuels again. Why? Because we know how much he talked about what he wanted to improve this offseason, but we never yet got the opportunity to see if he was able to make those improvements.
One area in which he really wanted to focus was improving his speed, and he recently told Jeremy Fowler that he felt he indeed was able to accomplish that goal through his training this offseason. He said that it will help him be more decisive as a pure runner and get in and out of his cuts better than last season.
Samuels is no small fry. Listed at six feet tall, he was described as 225 pounds last season, but it would be interesting to know what he weighs now, or perhaps rather what he will weigh when he reports to training camp. I’m sure he spoke to the staff about where they want him to be physically by the time the team rolls on into Latrobe in late July.
While playing at a heavier weight last season, Samuels was still able to be productive, recording 256 rushing yards on 56 attempts. He also gained 199 receiving yards on 26 receptions, three of which would produce touchdowns.
The second-year back seems to be being groomed for a bigger role in the offense this season, whether that is getting time spelling James Conner, working over him in some situational football, or working with him on the field together, something that they have been practicing in the spring.
It’s entirely possible that they all goes out the window and they just ride Conner as hard as they possibly can. That has historically been the method that Mike Tomlin has used, preferring to use a featured back provided that he shows able to do everything, and Conner has done that.
But Samuels is doing everything he can this offseason to make himself as enticing a number two option as possible, making a similar transition that many Steelers backs have made in their second offseason in recent years.