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: CB James Pierre
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: A rookie undrafted free agent out Florida Atlantic, James Pierre has generated some positive press during training camp. With the team recently releasing Alexander Myres, he figures to have a good chance to stick on the practice squad.
As it currently stands, the Steelers retain seven cornerbacks on their 80-man roster. It is entirely possible that we see them keep all seven of those, though only five may be on the 53. Those five would be Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, and the second-year Justin Layne.
We haven’t heard a lot about Trajan Bandy, the other rookie undrafted free agent cornerback who is a slot defender, but James Pierre has been mentioned a few times, and usually in positive ways, finding some success, for example, in one-on-one drills.
At 6’2”, whenever you can get a player at that position with that kind of length who shows some ability, you want to see if you can work with him and develop him. That’s one of the reasons that they drafted Layne, who is also 6’2”, and is the only other cornerback on the roster who is taller than 5’11”.
“An early camp phenom candidate? Try 6-foot-2 cornerback James Pierre, who’s receiving a high number of reps for an undrafted rookie”, Bob Labriola wrote on the 24th. “Pierre did a good job in coverage of James Washington during the red zone period. On the final rep between the two, Pierre ran Washington’s route for him but dropped an interception thrown into his gut”.
It is, perhaps, worth mentioning that he also spent some time working on returning kicks and punts. While it would be incredibly unlikely for him to make the team as a return man right now, as the saying goes, the more you can do…
Another point worth noting is that Pierre can play both cornerback and safety, something that he did in college. Though 23 now, he also declared for the draft as a redshirt junior.