Now that the 2020 training camp 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: S Antoine Brooks
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: With Curtis Riley getting a lot of positive press, and Marcus Allen getting some mentions recently, the rookie safety could potentially be looking at a scenario in which he winds up on the practice squad rather than the 53-man roster.
I’m not going out on a limb and making a prediction that Antoine Brooks, the Steelers’ sixth-round pick, is not going to make the team. At least, I’m not going to do that yet. But everybody from the beginning should have understood that that was a possibility.
The Steelers are not supremely deep at safety by any means, but the addition of Riley really helped by bringing in somebody not just with genuine experience, but with the skill set to line up at free safety. That helps to put Jordan Dangerfield and Marcus Allen in a similar group.
Dangerfield is a special teams lock, the type of player who plays 300 snaps a year for Danny Smith. Allen has not developed on the timeline the team was hoping for when they picked him up in 2018, but they continue to talk about him stepping into this or that role, and Tom Bradley seemed to note some advancement this year.
It goes without saying that the team isn’t likely to keep more than five safeties, so the better Allen looks, the worse is Brooks’ case for making the 53-man roster. And since he won’t have the preseason to prove himself, either on defense or special teams, that makes the road much harder.
From what little we’ve been able to gather from training camp reports, the rookie hasn’t yet stood out in a negative way, but he doesn’t appear to have made much of an impact, either. Meanwhile, we are hearing good things about cornerback James Pierre.
If the team carries six cornerbacks, they could settle for only four safeties, especially in light of the fact that players like Cameron Sutton and Mike Hilton have the versatility to drift back and play safety if necessary.