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: QB Devlin Hodges
Stock Value: Down
I know there’s going to be a lot of disagreement with me on this one, but just remember, I’m trying to judge this the way I believe the team is seeing things. After Devlin Hodges failed to get into last night’s preseason game, with Mason Rudolph and then Joshua Dobbs following Ben Roethlisberger, the rookie quarterback has to put all the rest of his eggs in one final basket against the Carolina Panthers.
And how much of an opportunity is he really going to get? This is predicated entirely upon the notion that the Steelers have an informed opinion about who their backup quarterback is going to be in New England, and as much as many are saying that it’s Rudolph, it’s very likely that Mike Tomlin and crew are much more on the fence than many commentators are.
If there is still a quarterback competition going on, then it’s going to be hard for Hodges to even see any playing time on Thursday. In last year’s preseason finale, Dobbs and Rudolph were the only quarterbacks who played. Landry Jones barely played at all throughout the preseason and lost his job.
Dobbs started that game and played nearly all of the first half, with Rudolph coming in to execute the two-minute drill at the end of the second quarter and then playing the remainder of the game. Don’t be surprised if we see something very similar again.
I think the best that Hodges can hope for is maybe a quarter of football, and I can’t imagine that’s enough time to make up whatever ground, in the team’s eyes, he has to cover. Many are quick to point out Dobbs’ inaccurate short-range passes, but what the team sees is a deep-ball threat who has superb mobility and the potential to break a play at any time.
Hodges has been a great story. It may even reach a point where he is on an NFL roster in September, if he is claimed off of waivers, or he could be kept on the practice squad. At this moment, I’m not expecting him to have much of a chance of making the team.
Maybe I’m misreading the Steelers’ views on him. Maybe they want to maximize his chance to earn a roster spot, and maybe he even starts the fourth preseason game and/or plays an entire half. Until we see that, though, I have to believe that he is firmly on the outside looking in, and that’s largely due to the limited amount of opportunities that are available.