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 Zach Banner
Stock Value: Down
I already talked about third-year tackle Zach Banner once before in this series, well over a month ago, and argued at that time that his stock was down. In revisiting his case once again as we approach the beginning of July, I can’t help but feel that his stock has continued to go down since then, and not because anything he has done, but rather the circumstances of those around him.
Specifically, those against whom he will likely be competing for a roster spot—there don’t appear to be any obvious indications that he is going to be considered seriously as a possibility for the starting right tackle job—are being given the opportunities to display a versatility that he frankly is not capable of.
Banner, the biological son of Cortez Kennedy, is a big man. A big man. He stands at 6’9”, the tallest player on the team, and also rivals nose tackle Daniel McCullers in weight. He has also had a prior history of issues keeping his weight down.
In other words, there is no reason to ever expect him to be kicked inside to guard in order to expand his repertoire. On the contrary, that is exactly what Matt Feiler has done, and what Jerald Hawkins and rookie Derwin Gray are doing so far this offseason.
Banner came in late when there was already an opening for a roster spot because Hawkins had suffered an injury. That gave the Steelers the luxury of offering him something of a redshirt year.
This time around, they have more than enough talent along the offensive line to spare that they don’t really have room for a third-string player who can only play tackle. He is still eligible for the practice squad, but as of this moment, I think it’s going to be pretty difficult for him to remain on the 53-man roster barring a very strong training camp and preseason at both left and right tackle. Chukwuma Okorafor beating out Feiler for the right tackle job could possible help him as well, but I think his fate is as much in the hands of others as his own, which is never where you want it to be.