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: RB Jaylen Samuels
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: In a four-man backfield last season, Samuels lost a lot of playing time and could potentially be on his way out, at least by the time the final 53-man roster is made.
A fifth-round pick in 2018, Jaylen Samuels had a notable rookie season as he settled into the running back position, which wasn’t necessarily his natural role in college. He rushed for over 250 yards that year on under 60 attempts, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, but he also caught 26 passes on 27 targets for 199 yards and three touchdowns.
Though he got more work overall the following year, largely due to James Conner’s injuries, he was less efficient doing it. This past season was basically more of the same in terms of efficiency, but also with a much more scaled back role.
Samuels only played around 100 snaps in 2020 after seeing more than 300 in each of his first two seasons, a product of Conner being healthier, but also Benny Snell seeing an expanded role and rookie Anthony McFarland commanding a small chunk of playing time, who saw 76 snaps.
Samuels carried the ball just nine times and caught nine passes. 18 touches in 14 games. He also dropped three passes, and he was supposed to be a receiving back. His five drops the year before on 57 targets was already bad, but was hoped to be an outlier.
Even though Conner is likely to leave in free agency, he may not be the only back gone from the roster. Snell and McFarland will be back, but the Steelers will almost surely address the position in the draft, and there is no reason to assume that they will carry four true running backs again like they did last season.