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: CB Steven Nelson
Stock Value: Up
While those in the national media may best know Steven Nelson with the Steelers right now as the guy that they saw running in chase of Odell Beckham, Jr. toward the end of the Cleveland Browns’ opening drive on Thursday night, the reality is that the fifth-year veteran cornerback had yet another good game.
As has been the case for pretty much the entire season. He may have been fairly quiet—he has no interceptions, no sacks, no forced fumbles, and only four official passes defensed—but that’s a reminder that the stat line doesn’t always tell the story.
The reality is that he has been among the best in the league in terms of allowing receptions. According to Pro Football Focus, he ranks fourth among eligible cornerbacks in coverage snaps per reception. To translate that, it means that, on average, there are a lot of snaps in between the receptions he allows—16.9, to put a number on it.
And that’s not because he isn’t being targeted. He has a pass thrown his way once every 8.9 snaps in coverage. Of the top 10 cornerbacks in receptions per snap in coverage, that’s the third-highest snaps-per-target figure.
They credit him with allowing 21 receptions on 40 targets, and his .79 yards per snap in coverage also ranks him tied for ninth. Joe Haden is allowing .82 yards per snap in coverage, not far behind at all, ranked tied for 13th among eligible cornerbacks.
Those numbers took a hit because of the Beckham catch, on which he was supposed to get safety help, but he only allowed two catches on six more targets for one net yard the rest of the game. If you limit the numbers to the first 10 weeks, his yards per snap in coverage number is .74, ranked fifth in the league.