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 Eli Rogers
Stock Value: Up
This is definitely going to surprise some people, or at least that’s what I’ve gathered based on the comments that we have gotten on certain articles earlier this offseason, but I’m going to argue that, with the trade of Antonio Brown, Eli Rogers’ stock overall is up for the 2019 season.
Why? Simply, experience. Think about this: nobody at the wide receiver position on the entire roster, other than Rogers, has worked in this offseason, been on this team, or has had a relationship with Ben Roethlisberger, that spans beyond two seasons.
Outside of Rogers, JuJu Smith-Schuster, a 22-year-old heading into his third season, has been the longest-tenured wide receiver on the roster. And with Brown gone, a player with whom Roethlisberger had a nine-year-long working rapport, having players who have that background is important. So that’s going to help him remain on the team, and even have a role.
Practice squad wide receiver Trey Griffey even talked about Rogers, as well as Smith-Schuster, as the two wide receivers that he looked to to learn about the offense and how Roethlisberger works, things of that nature, because of their history, while also seemingly implying that the former’s contributions remain significant.
So even with the additions of Donte Moncrief and Diontae Johnson in the offseason, there is still room for Rogers, and he may even open up as the number three, or at least number four wide receiver as things get underway.
I think it’s fair to wager that the number three role at wide receiver will probably be manned by a number of different faces throughout the year as they try to sort through who can work best and in which situations. There has been enough change where it would be unreasonable to expect that they have three clear-cut top wide receiver right now, or that it would be settled by the start of the regular season.
And let’s also not forget that Rogers has been a pretty good player. In a limited role in 2016, he caught 48 passes for 594 yards and three touchdowns. Active for only the final three games last season after tearing his ACL, he was targeted 14 times, catching 12 passes for 79 yards. So clearly Roethlisberger still liked looking his way.