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 Kevin Dotson
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: To put it simply, a rookie offensive lineman with hardly any in-person offseason doesn’t have much chance of contributing. He may still dress as the emergency eighth lineman that was initiated with the latest CBA, however.
We should know pretty soon whether there will be one, two, or zero preseason games. The fewer there are, the less likely it will be for any young player to be much of a contributor, especially in the early portions of his rookie season.
That category necessarily includes Kevin Dotson, who was a fourth-round pick by the Steelers back in April. A small-school road grader who was the highest player drafted this year without a Combine invitation, he is ostensibly in a competition tot start at left guard, but that’s so unlikely to happen that I don’t really pay it much heed.
Why? The two players he would be going up against have far more experience. Stefen Wisniewski has over 100 starts under his belt at guard and center. Matt Feiler, while primarily starting at tackle, has played extensively at guard over the past six offseasons, and has started two games there as well.
It’s very unlikely that a rookie in the middle rounds who played against a lower level of collegiate competition and didn’t even compete at the Combine is going to come in and show up two more experienced players of this caliber.
Maybe he would have had a shot if he had a legitimate offseason, but at this point, he may not play in a preseason game. He may have like 10 padded practices, if he’s lucky, by the time the season opens. Mike Tomlin has already talked about leaning on and favoring experience. That’s not Dotson.
That doesn’t mean that he can’t grow over the course of the season, nor should it be seen as a suggestion that it’s going to set his entire career back. The odds of him starting as a rookie were always going to be pretty slim anyway. Year one will be observational for him, and there’s nothing wrong with that.