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: FB Roosevelt Nix
Stock Value: Even
While I don’t think it would be accurate to say that the stock value of Roosevelt Nix has gone down, I certainly don’t believe that the opposite is true, either. It really depends upon how much the tendencies displayed last season carry over into this year.
Because, for one thing, the Steelers threw the football more than anybody else in the league last year, with the 31st-most rushing attempts. Even within that frame of reference, they still used Nix on offense a marginal amount. He saw the fewest snaps on offense in his career for a season up until this point.
And I don’t feel confident in saying that his usage will tick back upward this year. It could, but it’s certainly not guaranteed. That said, there are some reasons to believe it may.
For one thing, it’s hard not to have more balance than last offseason when they threw the ball over two thirds of the time. It’s almost an inevitability that that changes even just a bit, just a few more rushing attempts per game.
For another, the loss of a stable number two tight end is also an issue that could give Nix more opportunities. But at the same time, it was often Xavier Grimble who was used in two-tight end sets for running plays anyway, so that may have little to no impact on the fullback’s role.
He went from being a Pro Bowler in 2017 (as an alternate) to almost not even being a factor offensively in 2018 because of the paucity of his opportunities. I don’t think there has been any change in the team’s evaluation of his ability to do his job—it’s just that his job is being devalued, again, as it was under Bruce Arians. Which, let’s be fair, is a league-wide trend.
But as long as he continues to play as he does on special teams, it’s hard to imagine his roster spot being in much of any jeopardy. That is how he originally made the team and what has kept him here for years now. As for Sutton Smith, if they’re not using Nix on offense, the rookie outside linebacker who was an undersized college defense end is not going to suddenly leap in front of him.