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: T Zach Banner
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Has been using his quarantine time to maximize his fitness in preparation for competing for a starting job.
As he enters his fourth season in the NFL, and his third with the Steelers, Zach Banner knows this is the time to make things happen. There is, potentially, a starting job open for him at right tackle, if he shows the coaching staff that he is capable of holding it. If so, they are open to moving Matt Feiler to left guard to replace the retired Ramon Foster.
And based on the picture that he posted on Twitter yesterday, he is clearly not taking this challenge lying down. He has put enormous effort over the past couple of years since signing on with the Steelers in giving himself every opportunity to maximize his chances of success in the NFL.
Originally brought in during training camp in 2018, he proved to be a big enough obstruction at right tackle during the preseason to earn a spot on the 53-man roster as the ninth lineman, though he didn’t dress. Yet he recalls a question that Mike Tomlin asked him that year, something to the effect of what he can do to help Banner become a franchise left tackle somewhere in the league, if not in Pittsburgh.
He said that comment really motivated him, because it showed that he was finally in a place that believed in him and was invested in his success, and he has returned the favor in kind. While Feiler won the starting right tackle job in 2019 (he started 10 games there successfully in 2018), Banner one the game-day swing tackle job.
He never had to step in to play at tackle, but the Steelers used him pretty extensively as a tackle-eligible tight end, amassing over 200 snaps. Now, as he enters a contract year, he wants to show that he is a starter—and has the starting job to prove it. Step one is looking the part, and he’s got that down now.