The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens in a down-to-the-wire finish. One of the storylines that emerged from the game was the “next men up”. There were three such players that played a large portion of the game for their first time in a Steelers uniform. All three of the “stock up” players this week will need back up their debut performances, but their stocks are emerging.
Here are the players with their stock on the move after Week 13:
NT MONTRAVIUS ADAMS – STOCK UP
Montravius Adams was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers off of the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad less than a week before starting in his first game for the team. He provided some life in the middle of the defense, something that has been lacking since losing Tyson Alualu early in the season. His quick first step was evident throughout the game and he showed a great effort chasing down plays.
Mike Tomlin called Adams a potential hidden gem, which is a rare thing for Tomlin to say. Now he just needs to prove that he can replicate that type of performance.
CB JAMES PIERRE – STOCK DOWN
James Pierre had his shot at being the primary backup while Joe Haden is out with a foot injury. While he has put good tape out there, his time as a starter resulted in at least three touchdowns his way and him registering zero snaps the week after he was the starter. Pierre is young and his stock is up from the start of the season, but it will be wait-and-see as he tries to work his way back into his limited role that he had before. It may not happen again this season due to the emergence of Ahkello Witherspoon, especially once Joe Haden returns. Even Justin Layne got snaps over him against the Ravens. A bummer, as he would have had an opportunity to tackle his cousin, Lamar Jackson.
CB AHKELLO WITHERSPOON – STOCK UP
Ahkello Witherspoon was traded to the Steelers from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for a 2023 fifth-round draft pick. Up until this week, the trade seemed like a miss, as Ahkello struggled to see the field much for most of the season. Even when injuries and covid forced some members of the secondary to miss time, Witherspoon was not the one eating up those snaps.
Mike Tomlin said after the blowout loss to the Bengals that one man’s misfortune is another man’s fortune. In hindsight, that statement applied most to Witherspoon as he fully replaced James Pierre in the lineup in Week 13. He isn’t a great tackler, and did have at least two missed tackles in this game, but he also made big plays defending passes at key moments of the game. He is a willing tackler, but he doesn’t seem to be great at it. The Steelers appear to be choosing better coverage with worse tackling ability with this Pierre and Witherspoon trade off. So far, it has worked out, but Witherspoon is another player that will have to prove it when he gets his next chance.
WR JAMES WASHINGTON – STOCK DOWN
After a 12-game sample size, it is evident that James Washington doesn’t really have a place in the offense. JuJu Smith-Schuster’s season-ending injury was his best opportunity, but he wasn’t able to carve out a role for himself. Week 13 was no different, as he registered 22 snaps and only received one target. His contract is up after the season, so he will likely go elsewhere. His market price will not be very high though. The former second-round draft pick hasn’t put much on tape this season.
OG JOHN LEGLUE – STOCK UP
John Leglue was the third player that played a majority of the game for the first time in a Steelers uniform. Leglue is the fifth left guard to play for the team this season. B.J. Finney got the start, but quickly exited the game with an injury. Leglue ended up playing 56 snaps and allowed zero pressures. He graded out fairly well by Pro Football Focus, earning a 68.8 overall score, including an 81.1 pass blocking grade. This performance is made more impressive when you consider this was a divisional matchup against the Ravens, one that is always extra physical.