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: S Curtis Riley
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Despite only being recently signed, reports from training camp are that the veteran safety has been active and making plays. It’s looking more and more like he is gaining an inside track toward making the 53-man roster—and making it more difficult for Antoine Brooks in the process.
A fifth-year veteran safety, Curtis Riley had been unsigned since the new league year officially began, spending the 2019 season with the Oakland Raiders in a reserve capacity. He did start three of 16 games, logging 275 defensive snaps.
He is best known for his season with the New York Giants in the 2018 season, the year prior, during which he started all 16 games. He finished that season with 74 tackles as their free safety, intercepting four passes, one of which he was able to return for a touchdown.
The Steelers, of course, are not looking for a starting safety with Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds in place. But they in search of quality and experienced depth. All they had coming into the offseason, after Sean Davis left in free agency, was Jordan Dangerfield, a career special-teamer, and Marcus Allen, who went backward in his second season in 2019 in being demoted to the practice squad for most of the year.
This offseason, they added first-year former undrafted free agent John Battle as a futures player and then drafted Antoine Brooks in the sixth round out of Maryland. Neither were significant additions that one would think would preclude them from trying to bolster their depth.
That’s where Riley came in, signed toward the start of training camp. He appears to have adapted to the Steelers’ system pretty quickly (which shouldn’t be too surprising, because he’s played in three different systems over his four-year career), and has been making plays to boot.
Over the past few days I’ve been seeing people calling him Kameron Kelly 2.0. The difference here is that Riley already has proven NFL experience. Not great, high-end experience, but somebody who deserves to be in the league and who could be reasonably expected to occupy a reserve role on a good roster. And that’s exactly where he is.