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 Benny Snell
Stock Value: Up
The most obvious name that I left off of the stock watch list for this past week would have to be Benny Snell, the Steelers’ fourth-round rookie running back. Coming off of a knee injury that sidelined him for three games, the Kentucky product proceeded to produce the best game of his career last week against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Coming up just two yards shy of 100 on the ground, but going over that mark in yards from scrimmage, Snell had the look of a feature back, even though he actually ended up playing just under half the snaps in a four-man rotation in the backfield.
He put up 98 yards, a career high, on 21 carries, also the most he has had in his eight games as a professional. While he may or may not have the same number of touches today, he should have a larger percentage of the snap count, I think.
That is because Snell showed that he is not just a hard-nosed runner. He was able to run between the tackles, but he also got out to the perimeter for some bigger plays and was able to break some tackles. He hasn’t looked out of place catching the ball out of the backfield, either, but more importantly, he’s been a plus blocker in pass protection.
The fact that nobody else has been stepping up at running back—specifically Jaylen Samuels and Trey Edmunds—only makes it all the more likely that Snell should see his most extensive work in his young career today in James Conner’s absence.
The interesting thing to monitor will be the usage of Kerrith Whyte, who made his NFL debut last week. Signed off the Bears’ practice squad, he got six carries on seven snaps for over 40 yards and showed some burst while doing it, but his usage will be limited anyway.