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 Matt Feiler
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: When it comes to Feiler making a full-time transition from tackle to guard, things appear to be going well. David DeCastro recently commented on how his teammate looks working at left guard on a full-time basis, and doesn’t anticipate any issues.
Matt Feiler has made 27 starts throughout his NFL career. 25 of them have been at right tackle. He has one start apiece at either guard position. But if you take on his collective body of work in every facet, throughout the preseason, and offseason practices, he has probably spent more time as an NFL player along the interior than at tackle.
That doesn’t mean spending the past two years primarily being a tackle won’t have some complications. One thing that his teammate, David DeCastro, noted when he spoke to reporters that he’s “built for it”, that he’s “in great shape to play guard”, noting that he looks “even more stocky and Anchor-ish than be worth”.
It’s worth noting that his nickname is Anchor, known for being the strongest lineman on the team, for additional context about that comment, but the gist of the remark is that he looks like he has a strong base, which is better-suited to dealing with defensive tackles along the offensive interior.
Of course, with Feiler to guard, it was never really a question of whether or not the Steelers believed that he would be able to pull it off for a 16-game season. They do fully believe that. The concern has been whether or not they have a tackle who can step in and play on the right side for 1000-plus snaps in a season. If they don’t, Feiler will have to stay at tackle himself.
I do wonder what Feiler thinks about this, or at least about which spot he is more comfortable playing and where he would prefer to wind up. Players don’t want to change their position too often, so he’s probably hoping that wherever he starts this year is where he will wind up for the long term. Flexibility adds value to your background, but it can also be a nuisance.