Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, 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: OLB Tuzar Skipper
Stock Value: Down
Well, sometimes you just have to go with the obvious, don’t you? With the Steelers drafting Alex Highsmith, Tuzar Skipper is once again vulnerable. After all, while he made the initial 53-man roster a year ago, he was waived even before the season opener. The Steelers would not get him back until late in the year, and that was after weeks of having the opportunity to do so.
A 2019 undrafted free agent, Skipper impressed in training camp and then put up the necessary numbers in the preseason, totaling five sacks with two forced fumbles, and in the finale, also showed himself capable of playing special teams, a prerequisite for anybody hoping to serve as a fifth linebacker on a 3-4 team’s roster.
The Steelers felt they needed more help with a speed special teamer, however, rather than a linebacker type, so Johnny Holton circled back to the 53 and Skipper was waived, claimed by the Giants, with whom he would spend most of the year.
Pittsburgh would eventually sign him back to their 53 off of the Giants’ practice squad late in the year, but he would not dress. Prior to the draft, only he and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi represented the depth at outside linebacker behind the starters, after Anthony Chickillo was released.
We heard shortly before the draft that the Steelers wanted to address the outside linebacker depth pretty early in the draft. They ended up taking Highsmith in the third round. Outside of their current starters, they hadn’t used a pick at the position higher than the sixth round since 2013.
Highsmith will obviously make the roster. Skipper will have to compete with Adeniyi for the number four role. It’s always a possibility that they carry five linebackers, but you don’t want to take that risk. He was in that situation last year and it cost him.