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: S Dravon Askew-Henry
Stock Value: Even
Dravon Askew-Henry is an Aliquippa native who attended school at West Virginia, somewhat local for the Steelers (West Virginia is technically classified as one of the team’s ‘local’ colleges as it concerns pre-draft visits).
He was brought in as a pre-draft visitor, and then signed as a college free agent after the draft, during which they selected no safeties at all, and also after which they parted with two of the six safeties who were on the 53-man roster in 2018.
Though with only four experienced safeties on the roster, and a reasonable probability that the team would at the very least try to carry five safeties, it’s not clear that either of the two that they signed as rookie college free agents have made much progress in stating the case that it ought to be them, at least so far.
For example, when Sean Davis missed time in OTAs, the Steelers allowed first-year Kameron Kelly to run in his place for a time other either of the rookies, as did Jordan Dangerfield. I also so one report mention Marcelis Branch, but I couldn’t confirm that, and the report may have been mistaking him with Kelly. Either way, that’s two players who aren’t Askew-Henry or P.J. Locke.
Of course, that’s not exactly a deathblow for his NFL ambitions. Most of the headway will be made in training camp and the preseason, and we are still a few weeks out from that even beginning. But for the time being, we haven’t heard anything—either positive or negative—about Askew-Henry, as best as I can ascertain.
One thing that is to his advantage is that he is capable of being versatile, as he played a number of roles in college. During the spring, he professed confidence in his ability to play any role in the secondary, though for now they have him at safety.
Whether or not he makes the roster is going to be determined first and foremost if he can contribute on special teams, of course, which sounds like a broken record but is going to be the reality of any fringe player. Considering there’s little coverage or protection work resembling the real deal in the spring, it’s all the more fitting that his stock be regarded as even.