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: OL B.J. Finney
Stock Value: Down
Not why am I writing that his stock is down. Why is his stock down. Why are the Steelers not starting him in place of Ramon Foster while the starting left guard is out with a concussion? He has started every game that Foster has missed for the past four years up to today’s game. He started last week against the Indianapolis Colts and did well, as always. So why the change?
I’m finding it hard to accept the argument that it’s entirely driven by a fear of Aaron Donald’s pure strength. Matt Feiler, the starting right guard now scheduled to start at left guard today, is regarded as the physically strongest player along the offensive line—his nickname is ‘Anchor’—but it’s not as though Finney is some slouch.
And Feiler hasn’t lined up at guard during the offseason this year nearly as much as he has in years past. Finney is clearly the more experienced option, and the more practiced. And it introduces another variable into the lineup, with Chukwuma Okorafor, who hasn’t played a snap this season, entering at right tackle to take Feiler’s usual spot.
This move really doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense on paper unless there is some negative view about Finney, and the specific matchup against Donald. There is something in his game that they see as a disadvantage relative to this game.
I don’t think it’s because they have suddenly determined that Okorafor is their sixth-best lineman, considering he’s the only one that doesn’t dress. I also still don’t understand why they are opting to start Okorafor over Zach Banner, who had seemingly won the swing tackle role.
But I guess we’ll find out in about nine hours or so just how smart this strategy is. It’s not as though they’re plugging people into the lineup with no playing experience. And we should still see plenty of Banner as the tackle-eligible—presumably spending a lot of time on the right side of the line this time.