Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: T Jerald Hawkins
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Given the fact that he was on a practice squad when the Steelers signed him, his 2020 season could have gone a lot worse than it actually did, actually getting on the field, and possibly providing him a path to resurrect his career.
A former fourth-round pick out of LSU, Jerald Hawkins was an underclassman when the Steelers drafted him, and he slid a bit in the draft due to injury, the team believing that he had high upside. Unsurprisingly, injuries really hurt his chances of making headway in the early portions of his career.
That ultimately led to his being traded prior to the start of the 2019 season, and he struggled to find his footing with multiple organizations after that. He was on a practice squad when Zach Banner suffered a torn ACL in the 2020 season opener, so having that familiarity, the Steelers signed him up.
Chukwuma Okorafor slid into the starting role, and Hawkins immediately stepped into that backup swing tackle and extra offensive lineman role, one that he has played in the past. While he certainly didn’t electrify when he stepped on the field, he could have done a lot worse.
Now an unrestricted free agent, it should go without saying that he won’t be costly, but it’s unclear whether or not the Steelers will be interested in bringing him back. Given the possible losses of Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler, however, they may want to keep him around just to insulate against further loss.
Their offensive line depth has taken some major hits in recent years, so they can really use as many experienced bodies as they can get in the room, and at least he has been there and worked with Adrian Klemm. At best, he could probably hope to be an eighth lineman or something like that, but it’s better than being on somebody’s practice squad.