Now that the 2019 season is over, with a team other than ours having been crowned champion and there being much work to do to return to that status, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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 Kerrith Whyte
Stock Value: Up
While it’s easy to say that Kerrith Whyte’s stock is up, that’s only because his stock is so low. It would be wildly inaccurate to suggest that the young running back has any sort of roster spot reserved for him in 2020. But he does have a chance to make the team, for sure.
Originally drafted by the Chicago Bears in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Whyte only spent a few games on their 53-man roster without dressing before he was waived and subsequently placed on the practice squad.
After stockpiling injuries at the position—each of James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, and Benny Snell were injured at separate though overlapping times—the Steelers ended up with five running backs on the roster, with Trey Edmunds a special teamer and eventually moving to fullback after Roosevelt Nix was placed on injured reserve.
Tony Brooks-James was the first back to be the number five guy, but he didn’t last long. He was waived when Whyte was signed off the Bears’ practice squad, and he was quick to make an impact. A smaller player with speed, he rushed for 43 yards on six carries in his NFL debut, his first touch being a 21-yard run.
He finished the year with 122 rushing yards on 24 carries, plus one nine-yard reception. He had a solid, but not great successful run ratio, though he did get tackled for a loss three times. He also had four runs of 10-plus yards.
Of the highest significance is the fact that he returned 14 kicks over the final six games of the season, even though he averaged just 18.9 yards per return, which is not good. He did flash some potentially threatening ability on a couple of returns, which should be enough to at least allow him to get a look to remain in that role in 2020, especially considering how bad the team has been there for most of the past decade.