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
It’s probably fair to say that Javon Hargrave has been one of the better third-round picks the Steelers have made in recent years, though that’s not to say that they have lacked in this area. Some picks such as Diontae Johnson, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis, and James Conner have all contributed in significant ways over the course of the past 11 drafts.
Hargrave is the only significantly notable defender on the list, however, outside of Lewis, who was a late bloomer, only earning a role in his third season and then leaving after year four. The final two years of Hargrave’s rookie contract have also been his best, but he has been a contributor since day one.
The most underrated aspect of his game is his run defense, which some people still try to find fault with. He’s not a zero-technique, obviously, but he makes a lot of plays. This past season, for example, he set a new career high with 60 tackles, including seven for a loss. He also added four sacks and a forced fumble, which was recovered by Minkah Fitzpatrick for a touchdown.
He has 10.5 sacks over the course of the past two years, and has proven to be a consistent nuisance for interior offensive linemen. Unfortunately, he will probably be providing headaches to centers from another division in 2020 and beyond, perhaps even in another conference, because his performance has almost surely priced himself out of Pittsburgh and the role that they have reserved for him.
With Cameron Heyward playing his best football and Stephon Tuitt prepared to, provided that he returns healthy, there isn’t much room for Hargrave in the team’s 3-4, not with a quality set of edge rushers in T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree as well.
The latter is also scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and the team has already made it quite clear that he is their priority, with Art Rooney II stating that he is optimistic Dupree will be in Pittsburgh in 2020. Even if they had the money for Hargrave otherwise, that virtually ensures he will be finding his paychecks outside of Pittsburgh.