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 Olasunkanmi Adeniyi
Stock Value: Down
Some of you may be questioning why I have Ola’s stock down, though you shouldn’t. At the very least, the drafting of Alex Highsmith means that he will have competition if he wants to serve as the Steelers’ number three outside linebacker this season, a role that would see him replacing the recently released Anthony Chickillo.
But we shouldn’t automatically assume that he is even going to make the roster. It is more likely than not that he does, but we shouldn’t enter the process taking it as a foregone conclusion that he is going to beat Tuzar Skipper out for the fourth position. Skipper arguably had a better rookie preseason than Adeniyi did, and Adeniyi spent his second preseason injured, then did little when he did play in the regular season.
Skipper was, of course, released, and the Steelers didn’t even jump at the first chance to get him back when the New York Giants waived him, allowing him to clear waivers and did on New York’s practice squad for weeks before they made the move to sign him.
But he’s back, and he’ll have a full offseason—or however much of an offseason they can have this year—to show the advancements that he can make from his first season to his second. Adeniyi didn’t show much growth from year one to year two, so he’s not going to be handed anything.
Most likely, the Steelers will find the room to keep five outside linebackers, with both Adeniyi and Skipper (and Highsmith) lining up to play on special teams. But it’s entirely possible that they wind up with only four. They have even entered a season with only three outside linebackers before, so it can’t be dismissed.
As should basically always go without saying for former late-round or undrafted players who have yet to establish themselves a starter or even a role player, Adeniyi does not have job security, even if he figures to be positioned inside the bubble right now. He still has to earn his spot on the team, and with Highsmith coming in, it’s now feasible that he could even be pushed outside the bubble.