Now that training camp 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: OLB Quincy Roche
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Not a reflection of his work in training camp, but a byproduct of the Steelers’ signing of Melvin Ingram, Quincy Roche’s path to a spot on the 53-man roster has become more difficult over the course of the past two weeks.
Coming out of minicamp, Quincy Roche was ostensibly the number four outside linebacker, behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith as the starters, and Cassius Marsh as a veteran journeyman presence. He would have the opportunity to climb up the depth chart and pass Marsh. But he’s not going to move ahead of the recently-signed former Pro Bowler, Melvin Ingram.
As the Steelers figure out how to navigate a snap distribution system between Watt, Highsmith, and Ingram, no doubt Marsh and Roche are giving more thought to the numbers game than they were previously.
Before, they were both clearly inside of the bubble, without any other really notable outside linebackers on the 90-man roster. Now, in order for both to make the team, they must convince the Steelers to carry five at the position, which is something that they frequently fail to do.
Not that it wasn’t already the case, but I believe the signing of Ingram makes special teams contributions even more essential to Roche’s roster viability as a rookie. Of course it helps to play well on defense, but the reality is that it’s unlikely he sees much—or any—defensive playing time this year outside of injuries.
Roche was a sixth-round pick this year, but many consider him a steal, a player who is capable of performing much better than the average player drafted in the same spot in the draft. That remains to be seen, but the preseason isn’t too far away, at which point we can get the opportunity to see for ourselves.
But like defensive coordinator Keith Butler said last week, the Steelers haven’t forgotten about him. He will get his opportunities in front of the coaching staff, and as long as he earns a roster spot, I don’t doubt that there will be one available for him. It’s just that the path is a little less clear when the top of the room got more crowded.