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: QB Devlin Hodges
Stock Value: Up
Say what you want about the way he finished out the season, but like it or not, if you go back and look at the entire year, there’s no arguing that Devlin Hodges saw his stock go up. He went from an undrafted free agent who didn’t even make it onto the practice squad to being a temporary starter.
At the very least, he probably has come somewhat close to guaranteeing that he will retain a roster spot in 2020. That’s more than you can even ask for when you’re an undrafted free agent coming out of a small school. Such players are lucky to even spend a week on a 53-man roster. He has played in eight games and started six of them.
And he did do some good things. When he is on top of everything, he has a strong and accurate arm, and he certainly has the balls to attempt certain throws. He has some obvious deficiencies, the one being my greatest concern, his pocket presence. He really needs to get a better feel for pressure and when the ball needs to be out, when he needs to reset his spot, etc.
But he was a rookie. He hasn’t had a full NFL offseason before. He hasn’t even being in the NFL for a full year yet. He is way ahead of where any quarterback since Ben Roethlisberger has been in his development following his rookie season. More advanced than Mason Rudolph, than Joshua Dobbs, than Landry Jones.
There’s a reason that the Steelers kept giving him opportunities last year that they have never afforded to a ‘fourth arm’ before. They saw the potential in him, and he kept proving to be deserving of the opportunities afforded to him. So he kept getting more. Eventually, he got so many—some outside of the team’s choice—that he ended up as a starter.
Yes, he tanked at the end of the year, perhaps things just started catching up with him and the pressure got to him. But he has an offseason to reflect and grow now, and he’ll be better for it. And he only has to be the number three quarterback. I’ll never understand why some would want to run him off the roster altogether when the reality is that the ideal scenario is one in which he never even dressed for a game, outside of a meaningless finale with homefield advantage locked up, serving as Rudolph’s backup.