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: RB Jaylen Samuels
Stock Value: Down
Jaylen Samuels seemed like a revelation at times during his three-game starting stint last year, particularly in the game against the New England Patriots, but as the 2019 season marches on, it’s looking more and more in retrospect that his performance in that game was almost entirely about the blocking.
In his second season, the running back hasn’t looked very good at all for the most part, with a very low number of successful runs, and he is putting far too many passes on the ground for a player who literally caught more passes than anybody in his school’s history. I’m not even sure what the college record for receptions by a running back is, but he had to have been up there.
But he has probably four or five drops already this year, and he’s not looking nearly as elusive as he did at times last season. He also continues to struggle with recognition and power when asked to pick up a blitz, to the point where the Steelers started using Trey Edmunds more on third downs, which is not what they want to do at all.
I don’t know what Samuels’ issues are right now, but they need to be rectified quickly, especially with James Conner’s status unknown. We may have to end up with Benny Snell as the lead back if he is able to return to the field after missing weeks with a knee injury that required some cleanup. At least he had a decent ratio of successful runs the last time he was on the field.
Samuels is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry this year. He averaged over five in the last game, but you have to look at the context. He had seven on a draw on second and 20. That’s not a positive play. His only successful run on the night was an 11-yard gain on first and 10, and again, that was on a draw run.