Due to injuries and the usual roster shuffling at the beginning of a season, there are several players who have their stock on the move. The Steelers will welcome the Denver Broncos to town on Sunday afternoon where certain players will have abundant opportunity to increase their stock within the organization.
OLB Bud Dupree – Stock Up
Bud Dupree sure looks like a man that is working for a blank check. With his first performance of the season, albeit against lesser competition, he looks to be on pace to ride off into free agency with an enormous stack of cash. Dupree was constantly in the backfield, having 2 tackles for loss and being one of the major factors in shutting down Saquon Barkley.
While he didn’t notch a sack, Dupree had 8 pressures on 43 pass rushing snaps – good for 5.4 snaps per pressure. For reference, in 2019 he had 51 pressures on 542 snaps (10.6 snaps per pressure).
Dupree will have every chance to continue his hot start against Broncos Tackle, Garett Bolles, who didn’t suit up for a full practice all week on the injury report.
OG Stefen Wisniewski – Stock Down
Stefen Wisniewski was brought in to provide depth this season, but due to an injury to David DeCastro was thrust into action in week 1. A week later he is on the injured reserve with a pectoral injury for a to-be-determined amount of time. In week 1, Wisniewski had a rough outing allowing 4 pressures and struggling to create push in the running game.
Even if Wisniewski were to return this season, DeCastro is expected to be back in the near future. He could be a one-and-done in a Steelers uniform.
OG Kevin Dotson – Stock Up
Kevin Dotson will be the main beneficiary in week 2 from the injury situation. With DeCastro and Wisniewski both ruled out for week 2, Dotson will get his first NFL start in just his 2nd game in the league. Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff mentioned how they will need to be thoughtful in their approach to the game with a rookie guard, being careful to not over expose him.
Dotson will likely not have to start long this season, but this game will be his opportunity to show his natural talent and strength to prove the Steelers can build upon it in the future. With a good performance, Dotson could secure the backup position over Wisniewski when he returns.
OT Chukwuma Okorafor – Stock Up
Chukwuma Okorafor will be the starting right tackle moving forward due to Zach Banner’s season ending ACL injury. Being in his 3rd season, this is the perfect opportunity for him to start building a market for himself. The training camp competition between Chuks and Banner came “down to the wire”.
This week could be Chuks’ biggest challenge of the season as he will be playing alongside a rookie who will likely lean on him to some degree in communication.
RB Benny Snell Jr. – Stock Up
When you enter the week as a backup, and end the week as the 3rd leading rusher in the NFL something either went terribly wrong or terribly right. In this case it was a little of both. James Conner couldn’t make it through the game with an ankle injury, so Snell was forced to carry the load. He did an excellent job amassing 113 yards on 19 carries (5.9 avg). He also made some impactful blocks picking up the blitz.
James Conner is healthy and on track to start in week 2, but the workload will probably be more “by committee” than it was. If Snell is able to keep making the most of his opportunities, it will only be a matter of time before he is threatening for that starting spot.
ILB Ulysees Gilbert III – Stock Down
By all accounts, Ulysees Gilbert III was having an excellent offseason. Vince Williams and ILB coach Jerry Olsavsky both told the media that he was impressing in camp and showing he had a diverse set of skills to offer the team. Unfortunately, Gilbert was a gameday inactive in week 1 with Robert Spillane getting the helmet over him. He played well on special teams last season before getting injured, so it was a surprise to see him not get the helmet.
If the Steelers remember to activate the full allotment of players this week he will likely get a helmet, but this is certainly not how he wanted to start the 2020 season.