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 Christian Scotland-Williamson
Stock Value: Up
Here’s an interesting one. Christian Scotland-Williamson, and English rugby player, is now in his second offseason learning the game of football—American football that is—with the Steelers. With an international player exemption, he spent all of last offseason as the 91st man, and then the regular season as an 11th member of the practice squad.
He appears to be headed for the same fate this year, which is actually progress, because if the team is not seeing progress, then there is little point in continuing to work with him. But according to Jacob Klinger, the 6’9”, 274-pound wrecking ball is starting to look the part.
Klinger wrote that his second year of learning the game is “going better”, saying that “where he once would’ve been a punch line, he’s fitting in in offseason drills”. Those who watched him last year did note that he stood out in his inexperience, which should be no surprise given that he hadn’t played football in the past.
What are the odds, though, of Scotland-Williamson actually developing into a player who merits being carried on the 53-man roster? How often does an international pathway program player actually make the successful transition well enough to make a team? Outside of specialist positions, at least, suffice it to say that it pretty much doesn’t happen.
Yet the Steelers are in an interesting situation at tight end after they lost their number two, Jesse James, in free agency. While they believe in Vance McDonald as their top man, provided that he can stay healthy, they are likely less sold on Xavier Grimble and his ability to seamlessly take over the second spot.
They did use a draft pick on Zach Gentry in the fifth round earlier this offseason, but Gentry himself is still learning the position after converting from quarterback. He should make the roster, but it’s not a guarantee, either.