Now that the regular season 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 have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season 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 reasoning. 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. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: DB Tre Norwood
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The rookie defensive back is settling into a niche within the Steelers’ defense and finding ways to make an impact, recording three third-down stops during Sunday’s game.
While he is not playing as much as he did at the start of the season—likely for the better, for now—rookie seventh-round defensive back Tre Norwood has been on the upward trajectory so far, and that slope got a little steeper after his significant contributions in the team’s last game.
Playing just 15 snaps as the dime defender, Norwood recorded no fewer than three stops on third-down plays against the Seattle Seahawks, first tackling the big-bodied D.K. Metcalf in space to stop him short on 3rd and 4. Later, he broke up a pass intended for Tyler Lockett, and in the fourth quarter, recorded a tackle for loss on a screen pass.
He has rightly been garnering praise from coaches and teammates alike this past week, with senior defensive assistant Teryl Austin perhaps particularly keen to speak highly of the young man out of Oklahoma, praising his intelligence and his ability to read schemes and play underneath coverage.
The question now is, how will his role evolve on the other side of the bye week, if at all? During the first two games, he was the Steelers’ primarily nickel defender and was on the field for about three quarters of the snaps. Since those first two weeks, he has averaged about 15 snaps per game, which is under a quarter of the snaps, typically.
Is he effective specifically because the role that he has been given and what they are asking him to do within it, or can he be similarly effective across a larger number of snaps, now that he’s got several games’ worth of experience under his belt?
The Steelers are also trying to find opportunities for Arthur Maulet and James Pierre to get on the field, so the discussion is not solely about Norwood. They certainly have bigger problems than figuring out which of these three should be playing more than they are.