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 Olasunkanmi Adeniyi
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: With the limited nature of the offseason, it will be incredibly difficult for a rookie like Alex Highsmith to make much of an impact, especially defensively, this year. The fact that he has suffered preseason injuries in each of his first two years is another bonus.
Long story short, the limited offseason should set up the inevitability that, for the first time in his career, third-year outside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi is the number three at his position, behind starters T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree.
Why? Nobody else at the position on the team has ever played a snap for them. Alex Highsmith was just drafted late in the third round and, as of yet, has never even been on an NFL practice field. The chances of him being trusted to play ahead of Adeniyi are low.
The other option? Tuzar Skipper. The guy that was already passed over last year as a rookie. He made the initial 53-man roster but then was released before the opener. When he was claimed off waivers, and then weeks later released, they didn’t bother to claim him back, or sign him to their practice squad when he did clear. It took them a few more weeks before they re-signed him, and he didn’t dress when he came back.
So Adeniyi is the guy unless either of them is an incredibly quick study, because they are so far behind the eight ball at this point with this offseason. There may be no preseason games. There will be significant limitations in training camp. This will be far from the normal offseason. It already hasn’t been.
And as mentioned, as a bonus, there is the reality that Adenyi has gotten hurt in August the past two years, and those injuries have affected him during the year. He spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve. He’s already learned quite a bit over the past two years. Going into the regular season healthy is a bigger deal.