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: CB James Pierre
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Cornerback James Pierre continues to draw praise for his performance during the spring, said to have recorded two interceptions in yesterday’s practice, including at least one off of Ben Roethlisberger.
If you’re under 250 pounds and Ben Roethlisberger gives you a high five during practice, that most likely means that you caught a pass. It doesn’t matter if you’re a receiver or a defender. If you did what you were supposed to do and made a play, he will compliment you.
That’s what second-year cornerback James Pierre got to experience yesterday after picking off the 17-year veteran, who has been garnering a lot of attention lately. Joe Haden, Teryl Austin, Mike Tomlin, and others have spoken positively about how he has looked so far in May and June in shorts.
A college free agent rookie out of Florida Atlantic a year ago, Pierre cut his teeth playing gunner on special teams in 2020, gaining minimal defensive experience. But he is competing for a starting job as the nickel defender this season.
If he wins the job, he will play on the outside, which will force Cameron Sutton to kick inside for the majority of his snaps, since the Steelers spend more time in nickel and dime defenses than in a ‘base’ 3-4 front or other heavy sub-packages.
But the idea is to get your best five defensive backs on the field. For the moment, it seems as though he is the frontrunner to be that fifth defensive back. But there is still a lot of offseason left. Teams don’t even have pads on yet or are hitting.
The competition will ultimately be decided in training camp and in the preseason, as he looks to hold off Justin Layne, Arthur Maulet, and others for the role—some of whom would play inside if they win the job, keeping Sutton outside.