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: WR Ray-Ray McCloud
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: One of a handful of veteran players that the Steelers have brought in since training camp begun, McCloud has been drawing some attention since he was signed about two weeks ago. His ability to return kicks in particular gives him at least a fighting chance to be a dark horse candidate.
There are just days remaining before the Steelers trim down to a 53-man roster. Specifically, two days, because Saturday is cutdown day. Will Ray-Ray McCloud survive the Turk? I wouldn’t bet on it, but at least he’s managed to put up a fight.
Even with Ryan Switzer looking like a sure bet to make the 53-man roster, it’s not a shoe-in that he retains his previous role as the team’s kick returner. If McCloud can offer something there, that could be a window for him. Reporters have also indicated that he has made some plays as a wide receiver in recent days, even if that isn’t really his game.
In truth, there isn’t really a strong hold on a sixth spot for wide receiver. A lot of people really like Deon Cain, but in reality, he is just a tall wide receiver with decent speed who has caught a handful of balls. It’s not like we’ve seen him become the next Martavis Bryant. Amara Darboh is another candidate.
Over the course of two seasons, McCloud has returned 14 punts for 102 yards, averaging just 7.3 yards per return. He averaged 8.2 last season with a long of 39. He’s also returned nine kicks for 192 yards. He returned eight for 174 yards last year, a 21.8-yard average.
The problem? He’s fumbled five times in his career, including three last season. Ball security is the foremost job of a return man, so the Steelers would have to feel really good about his handles in order to give him a chance. And his fumbling didn’t begin once he got to the NFL. regardless, however, so far as we can tell, he appears to have raised his stock since arriving in camp, and that is what this series is about.