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: OL Rashaad Coward
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: According to reports, veteran right guard David DeCastro has not been on the field during OTAs, and free agent signing Rashaad Coward has been the one in the ‘starting lineup’ replacing him.
Rashaad Coward is one of five players that the Steelers added to the offensive line this offseason, either via veteran free agency or the draft. Of the five, his roster spot is the least secure, amongst himself, Joe Haeg, B.J. Finney, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr.
But his running with the ‘first team’, insofar as there is a ‘first team’ that means anything during OTA sessions, is perhaps significant. Noah Strackbein of Sports Illustrated, writing for their AllSteelers platform, noted that Coward has been running in David DeCastro’s spot throughout these past three weeks.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that he is a lock to make the roster, let alone that he is viewed as the top backup guard. A player who is new to a system is going to be treated to more work. For example, B.J. Finney has spent five years in the Steelers’ system prior to returning this year, with 12 starts, including two specifically at DeCastro’s right guard spot.
But it’s not for nothing that he’s there. It shows at least that the coaching staff wants to get him that work, pretty much giving him the opportunity to stake his claim to a roster spot. He certainly could, theoretically, compete to serve as the Steelers’ primary backup guard this year.
The CBA helped pave the way last year. With the ability to dress an eighth lineman on game days without penalty, teams can now specifically dress a backup tackle, a backup center, and a backup guard, rather than just two backups, between the two of whom is the capability of filling in all three roles.
Coward, a former undrafted free agent, has spent the past four years in Chicago. Starting out as a defensive end, he moved to the offensive line in 2018, and has logged 15 starts, at both guard and tackle, over the course of the past two seasons.