Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for 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 move forward.
Player: OLB Tuzar Skipper
Stock Value: Up
Perhaps nobody did more to raise their stock during last night’s game than did Toledo outside linebacker Tuzar Skipper. Originally an invitee to the Steelers’ rookie minicamp, he performed well enough in that field that the team elected to waive Keion Adams, who has since signed with the New York Giants.
But Pittsburgh certainly isn’t going to miss him, so far as they would have anyway, if Skipper is going to continue to build off of what he did last night. Entering the game in the second half with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers already trailing and throwing the ball all over the place, he had the opportunity to largely just pin his ears back and get after the quarterback.
That he did, generating a handful of pressures, and one of them finally connected for a sack. At least one of his other pressures also forced a bad pass on a long throw down the field. it wasn’t just the fact that he got in the backfield, however, but rather also that he was able to do so with quality.
Granted, Skipper was playing against third-string offensive linemen by that point in the game, but you can only beat the man in front of you. He did get into the game sooner than he ordinarily would have with T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree not playing, the starting roles going to Anthony Chickillo and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, the latter of whom was his college teammate.
While Adeniyi already appears to be a lock to make the 53-man roster, Skipper has to show over the course of the next three games that he can do the same things that his fellow Toledo alumnus demonstrated a year ago, which helped him make the roster.
The Steelers only had three outside linebackers on the roster for most of last season with Adeniyi on the Reserve/Injured List most of the time, so carrying five this year , which they’ve certainly done before, would be a change in that regard.
I think that he is moving ahead of J.T. Jones at this point, and has already been ahead of Sutton Smith, but his biggest problem could prove to be Ulysees Gilbert III. The best thing that he can do for himself is to ball out on special teams. A cursory scan didn’t reveal any special teams snaps in the game, but if he didn’t he should earn some time there now, s the Steelers will want to give him the best chance to earn a roster spot.