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: Up
Reasoning: Skipper has been seen hard at work training with his teammates under Brandon Johnson.
I have already covered the loss of value Skipper’s stock has taken relative to the team drafting Alex Highsmith in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, so this evaluation uses that as a jumping off point. More specifically, his stock has gone up since then, marginally…and I’m writing about it simply because the pickings are slim, with no football going on and none expected for more than a month at the earliest.
Skipper was already in the role of the number five edge defender last year, and he got released before the season opener. While he wound up back on the 53-man roster for the Steelers late in the season, it was only after they moved on with just five defensive linemen, and he was inactive for the games he returned for.
With Highsmith’s drafting, he is likely slated to be no better than fifth again, behind T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, with Olasunkanmi Adeniyi the more veteran backup. Then you have to write in a guaranteed spot for a rookie third-round pick. I can’t tell you the last time a third-round pick hasn’t made the Steelers’ roster—it’s pretty rare that it happens at all, and when it does, it’s usually on a team with a really deep roster, or of course there’s some type of off the field issue.
The only thing Skipper can control, though, is the work that he puts in this offseason to being the best player he can be. He already knows what it’s like to go through a season. He did actually get to play some when he was on the New York Giants, so he also has a bit of playing experience, which can be useful.
Being in a setting like he has been, where he is around guys like Dupree and Adeniyi, who can help him along from peer to peer, is also beneficial to him right now as a young player who probably still needs a lot of coaching and is unable to get it right now. He’s taken the initiative to do what he can to get work in, so that’s why his stock is up.