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: C Maurkice Pouncey
Stock Value: Down
We’re now going to begin turning our attentions to more global discussions about the 2019 season, rather than specifically the team’s last game. That should be implied by the fact that today’s entry is of Maurkice Pouncey, who did not play in the finale due to a knee injury.
The eight-time Pro Bowler’s 10th season in the NFL ended just a hair prematurely because of that injury in the second half of the Steelers’ Week 16 loss. It initially didn’t appear to be overly serious, but his knee buckled as he tried to walk off the field and had to be assisted.
The Steelers have since then provided no substantial updates as to his status, though there are at present no known fears of a serious injury. For all we know, he could be fully healed right now. But that still doesn’t make his 2019 season any better.
After having ramped up his play over the previous two years, his best since suffering a serious leg injury, he took a step back this past season. While reports of his demise have been premature to say the least—led as always by Pro Football Focus—his snapping issues alone are quite a cause for concern.
And it’s disappointing that Mike Tomlin glossed over them when he was asked about it, because it is a concern. It can be argued that a couple of the bad exchanges could be attributed to the quarterbacks, but by and large, he failed to demonstrate the sort of consistency that ought to be expected from a starting center, let alone a perennial Pro Bowler.
It wasn’t just the snaps that are at issue, though. His entire game has seen declining consistency, which must be a hallmark of a top five center. Pouncey was not that this past season. That’s not to say that it’s indicative of an inevitable and irreversible decline—after all, 2018 was one of the best years of his career—but it does leave one to wonder what will come.