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: OL Stefen Wisniewski
Stock Value: Even
The NFL Draft has come and gone…for some time now, in fact. Did it make any difference to Stefen Wisniewski? At least for 2020, I would argue, no, not really.
The Steelers did use their second of two fourth-round draft picks to select Kevin Dotson, a guard out of Louisiana-Lafayette. Ostensibly, he will be thrown into the competition to battle for the starting left guard job, but I wouldn’t give him very good odds of securing a starting role as a rookie with a limited offseason, coming from a smaller school no less.
The job will ultimately still be determined, more likely than not, between Wisniewski, a 2020 free agent signing who has over 100 career starts under his belt, and Matt Feiler, whose ability to kick inside will only be relevant if the Steelers can turn one of their young tackles into a starter.
Feiler will definitely start. Whether it’s at left guard or right tackle remains to be seen. That will largely be determined by whether or not Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner can even manage to present themselves as reasonable candidates to start.
And even if they do, it’s not guaranteed if they will. If the Steelers feel Wisniewski is a better guard than either Okorafor or Banner are a tackle, they could still choose to keep Feiler at right tackle and just appreciate the fact that their depth at the position is solid.
Longterm, that said, they would still probably rather see one of the young tackles in the lineup with Feiler at guard. Wisniewski is 31 years old and a placeholder at best. He can be a serviceable starter, but he would have more valuable as the swing interior reserve, provided that they have legitimate options to fill a starting five in front of him.
As I said, I don’t think Dotson’s being drafted really changes that. He has too much work to do in terms of his pass protection, and without getting on the field until at least training camp, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be up to speed in time to start at the beginning of the season.