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: WR Diontae Spencer
Stock Value: Up
The Steelers wrapped up their second week of OTAs earlier this week, and apparently, one player who might not really be on your radar who had a good week is a guy named Diontae. No, not the team’s third-round rookie wide receiver, Diontae Johnson. The other Diontae on the roster. Yes, there are two. No, I’m not talking about Donte Moncrief. Go check. I’ll wait while you do that and come back.
His name is Diontae Spencer and he is a first-year player in spite of the fact that he is 27 years old. So how did that happen? Well, the 5’8”, 163-pounder out of McNeese State has spent the past four years playing in the Canadian Football League, first with the Toronto Argonauts, then the Ottawa Redblacks. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Rams in 2014 but did not make it into August.
Back on an NFL roster for the first time in five years, Spencer has been making some plays. Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley provided a sideline report for the final session of OTAs last week and noted that Spencer caught two touchdowns in practice.
Spencer holds a CFL record for the most all-purpose yards in a game, compiling 496 in total with 133 receiving yards, 165 yards on kick returns, and another 169 yards on punt returns. He is a two time CFL East All-Star, so he has been productive while he has been up north.
That experience will obviously help him, but that doesn’t mean there is a roster spot easily available for him. Especially not for a player so small, unless he returns a couple of kicks and punts for scores during the preseason, which would be his best bet. He has two punt return touchdowns in his CFL career, as well as a score returning a missed field goal.
Still, it’s never a bad thing to get noticed for making some plays, so that’s why we’re talking about Spencer today. is it possible that we hardly ever mention his name again except in passing? Sure. But for now, he’s generating a bit of positive press.