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: DT Javon Hargrave
Stock Value: Up
The chatter on fourth-year defensive lineman Javon Hargrave has been a bit quiet this season, but not necessarily because of his play. While he hasn’t been quite as impactful so far as he was a year ago, he is still contributing at a high level, and Sunday may have been his best game of the season.
And not just because he recorded a strip sack that led to a fumble recovery and touchdown by Minkah Fitzpatrick. While the Los Angeles Rams had some success against the run on individual plays, Hargrave had an impact there. He finished the game with seven total tackles, all of them for run stops. The longest gain on a play on which he recorded a tackle was three yards on first and 10.
This is a big season for Hargrave both personally and professionally. He is in a contract year and likely has some understanding of the reality that he will have a greater earning opportunity on the open market than if he re-signs with the Steelers.
At the same time, in light of the Stephon Tuitt injury, which has put him on the Reserve/Injured list for the season, his role in Pittsburgh’s defense is critical right now, as he is the only high-end asset along the defensive line outside of Cameron Heyward, and that means he’s seeing a healthy amount of playing time as a result.
On the season, Hargrave has accumulated 26 tackles, with Sunday’s performance representing a season-high. He also had six tackles in Week Three against the San Francisco 49ers. He strip sack of Jared Goff was his third of the year, making it now two years in a row in which he has picked up more than two, which is the total that he had in each of his first two seasons.
He has logged over 50 snaps in each of the past two games, for the first time this season. That figures to continue, especially against the Cleveland Browns, who will look to get the ground game going with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt on a short week.