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: S Antoine Brooks
Stock Value: Purchased
And now we move on to the fifth of the Steelers’ six draft selections in 2020, that being sixth-round safety Antoine Brooks out of Maryland. Pittsburgh knew it had a depth problem at safety after going into the 2019 season with Kameron Kelly and Jordan Dangerfield as their primary reserves.
That’s why many believed it was very possible the position could be a ‘surprise’ pick even as early as the second round. A guy like Antoine Winfield was probably enticing to them, but he was not available by the time they were on the clock.
Still, they did pass on every other safety in the third and fourth rounds. Then they didn’t have a pick in the fifth, and came to Brooks in the sixth, a player whom they talked about having scouted for a couple of years, and liked what they saw.
The Steelers have deep connections to the Maryland program, going back to the fact that it’s the alma mater of Tomlin’s brother. The head coach’s son is currently enrolled there and plays for the Terps. Matt Canada, their new quarterbacks coach, was with the team in 2018 when they were scouting Brooks, and he worked with him.
After they did take him, Kevin Colbert referred to him as half a linebacker and half a safety, making it pretty clear that they view him as somebody whom they could potentially aspire to use in a hybrid role, a ‘moneybacker’ of sorts that plays between the second and third levels of the defense.
A high school injury robbed Brooks of some of his athleticism, and many believe he will be limited to being a box defender at the NFL level. It remains to be seen how the Steelers intend to use him. But first, of course, he has to make the 53-man roster.
There’s not a lot of competition. Dangerfield is back. Marcus Allen returns after spending most of last year on the practice squad. There are some futures-type signings as well. But he should at least be able to carve out a role on special teams to begin with.