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: FB Derek Watt
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The sixth-year fullback is displaying some abilities to make plays in his second training camp with the Steelers as hopes rise for him to have a more impactful season.
One thing the Steelers do not have this year is a fullback competition. Even if that were, you know, an important thing, they already made their decision back in March when they restructured his deal to create more cap space. Derek Watt is their fullback. And he will be next year, too.
And he might actually have a more impactful season this year, potentially for multiple reasons. The biggest thing that derailed his first season in Pittsburgh after signing a three-year contract with them last offseason was health, which caused him to miss four games and parts of others.
Watt didn’t play many snaps on defense, but when he did, it was almost always in a blocking contest. But he’s been getting opportunities over the course of the past few practices especially to demonstrate his ability to make some plays, at least in the passing game.
It would not be a novel idea in the history of the NFL, of course, to throw some passes the way of the fullback, but it’s not something that has really been a part of the Steelers offense in many years, even with Roosevelt Nix.
Another thing they’re doing this year with Watt is trying to flex him out a bit. He talked recently about having worked with the tight end group one day, the running back group another, and he even spent some time working with the inside and outside linebackers.
Still, his core role will remain special teams, where he should be expected to log 300-plus snaps if he can stay healthy, and hopefully log double-digit tackles. If he can make a handful of catches along the way, perhaps with a big-play wheel route or two sprinkled in, that would certainly be welcome. But what he really needs to do is open up some holes in the running game.