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: T Matt Feiler
Stock Value: Up
Overall, I believe Matt Feiler had a very strong season in his first year as a full-time starter, though it was a role that, nominally, he was asked to earn, working against Chukwuma Okorafor. Okorafor ended up as a gameday healthy scratch for most of the season, yet started one game at right tackle while Feiler moved to left guard to fill in for Ramon Foster.
In his third NFL season, he did solidify himself as a legitimate starting offensive lineman. And I say offensive lineman, rather than tackle, because I believe it’s a possibility he may be asked to move to left guard this season, if not next, should they elect to release Foster.
While he did give up a few sacks, in terms of skill level, he showed progress from last season. He has been able to handle some of the best pass-rushers he has been asked to go up against. He is also the strongest offensive lineman on the team, which gives him a certain competitive advantage in opening up holes for the running backs. Some of the Steelers’ bigger runs have actually come from the right-side B Gap.
That said, I was debating as to whether or not I should argue stock up or stock even, because generally, he looked very solid last season as well in extensive starting time due to Marcus Gilbert’s injuries. Still, I do think he took a step forward, and this was the first year he earned a starting job, as opposed to filling in due to injury.
Yet I would still expect him to receive some challenge in 2020 from Okorafor and Zach Banner, assuming that they have a starter at left guard. These are two relatively young tackles that the team remains high on. Feiler will be a restricted free agent this year, with three years of accrued experience, so his cost will also be going up. 2021, he’ll be unrestricted, assuming that they don’t sign him to a long-term extension this offseason.