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 Stefen Wisniewski
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: While he is no rookie—in fact, he is the third-most-experienced offensive lineman on the roster—Wisniewski is new to the Steelers, and having a very limited acclimation period will make it difficult for him to earn a starting job.
Mike Tomlin has already gone on record as saying that Matt Feiler will take the first snaps of training camp at left guard. While he didn’t offer a lot of specificity beyond that, it’s not a good start for Wisniewski, who would then be working with the second-team unit to start out.
I don’t have any doubt that he will be given his opportunity to show whether or not he can help them in the starting lineup, but at the same time, it must be remembered that whether or not he starts isn’t just about whether or not he is good enough to start.
Feiler is already good enough to start. He is going to start somewhere. But the Steelers want to know if Zach Banner or Chukwuma Okorafor can start at right tackle, which would allow Feiler to move inside to guard. With Feiler starting at guard, those young tackles are being given the leg up in having the opportunity to show whether or not they can take that role.
Both of the tackles are much less experienced than Wisniewski in terms of NFL experience, but they have also been in the Steelers’ system for two years, and have been working with Shaun Sarrett and everything during that time. This is still new for the veteran, and he hasn’t even worked with them in person yet.
It’s really hard to quantify what is more valuable in this climate: situational experience or overall experience. Wisniewski has started over 100 games in his career, but he hasn’t even been on a field with any of his teammates yet. Will he have enough time in training camp, possibly without a preseason, to showcase himself and get up to speed, ready to be a positive contributor?