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: ILB Ulysees Gilbert III
Stock Value: Even
Ulysees Gilbert III might be the least-talked about draft pick this year. In fact, I think it’s probably safe to say that that has been the case. Devin Bush has obviously been discussed ad nauseum at this point. Diontae Johnson is anticipated to be one of the team’s top four receivers, while any day-two cornerback like Justin Layne is going to get some attention.
Then there is Benny Snell, Jr. as talk of a running back rotation begins, and Zach Gentry, while admittedly somewhat under the radar, is playing at a position deemed thin. Sutton Smith’s pass-rushing college tape and position versatility has gotten him mentions. Isaiah Buggs’ potential to offer pass rush for the d-line off the bench has been a topic. And Derwin Gray has already played four line positions.
What do we know about Gilbert? That he’s the third-most notable addition to the inside linebacker position this offseason, behind first-rounder Bush and veteran free agent signing Mark Barron. The sixth-round pick also comes in behind veterans Vince Williams, a starter, and Tyler Matakevich, a special teams standout.
Trolling through the spring coverage is a journey to find any nugget whatsoever about Gilbert, the slight Akron product, regarded as a coverage player more than anything else. As a sixth-round pick, he will have his hands full trying to make the team, which will have to include a sizable special teams component.
One of the few mentions I was even able to find on him came from Jacob Klinger, who argued that his stock was down at the end of minicamp. He wrote nothing about his actual performance or why his stock was down, simply noting that he has time to make up ground, and he did conclude by saying he would “still bet on him making the team as a fifth inside linebacker”.
He doesn’t have a lot of competition for a fifth inside linebacker spot, though, for what it’s worth, working against Tegray Scales and Robert Spillane. You may not even be familiar with their names. They were both first-year Reserve/Future signings, and neither are of the athletic variety.