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2021 Steelers Week 17 Stock Report – Who’s Up, Who’s Down?

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cleveland Browns to cling onto playoff chances in Ben Roethlisberger’s presumed final home game of his career. The running game produced 190 yards while the defense sacked Baker Mayfield nine times.

Here are the players with their stock on the move after Week 17:

CB AHKELLO WITHERSPOON – STOCK UP

After spending the majority of the season as an inactive, Ahkello Witherspoon has come on strong down the final stretch. The two-interception game and numerous plays made in coverage over the last few weeks have become more than an anomaly as Witherspoon is now in the top ten among all corners according to Pro Football Focus’s grading system. He will be a priority free agent for the Steelers, especially with Joe Haden’s contract set to expire. The only issue is, he may have played himself out of an affordable contract back in Pittsburgh.

RB NAJEE HARRIS – STOCK UP

In this game, Najee Harris was everything the Steelers hoped for when they drafted him with their first round draft selection last year. With a career-high 188 yards, a staggering 181 of those were after contact. Najee Harris was winning his one-on-one matchups with linebackers and flashed some big play capability with two runs over 30 yards. He took the four, five, and six-yard runs that came to him instead of trying to do too much, which wore down the Browns’ defensive front, ultimately enabling Najee Harris to seal the game with his longest run of the year and a touchdown.

Najee Harris has a decent chance of taking second place for most rushing yards in the 2021 season. With Nick Chubb possibly injured and Joe Mixon on the COVID list, Harris only needs a modest rushing game in Week 18 to move into second. As Harris acknowledged just a week ago, those were some “ugly yards”.

NT CARLOS DAVIS – STOCK DOWN

Since coming back from IR, Carlos Davis has struggled to see many snaps on defense. With the snaps he has played, they haven’t been anything noteworthy. Mike Tomlin noted the A-Gap defender as one of the easiest positions to learn, but why can’t that apply to Carlos Davis, who hopped back on the moving train late in the season? Adams had 29 snaps on Monday compared to Davis’ nine. Davis (and Buggs for that matter) have made themselves expendable with the emergence of Adams.

P CORLISS WAITMAN – STOCK UP

After a strong first game without many opportunities against the Kansas City Chiefs, Corliss Waitman followed it up with an exclamation point on Monday Night Football. He had five punts for an average of 48.8 yards, with one downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The most impressive thing from him was punting from the back of the Steelers’ end zone under pressure after fielding a high snap. This punt went for 53 yards when it very easily could have been a disaster for the Steelers. Pressley Harvin III will likely have a competition against Waitman in camp next year, and Waitman could give him a run for his money.

OG JOHN LEGLUE – STOCK UP

John Leglue got his roster spot by being versatile, playing every position along the offensive line in training camp except for left tackle. After a rotating door of injuries and illnesses at left guard, Leglue got his chance. It wasn’t pretty at first, and you wouldn’t go into a season hoping Leglue is the guy, but he has probably earned himself the role of top depth along the interior offensive line. He could even play right tackle in a pinch. Guys like Doug Legursky and B.J. Finney filled this role in the past. Nearly every season, the top backup guy on the OL ends up starting a small handful of games, so Leglue has the inside track to a very important role for the Steelers in 2022. Pro Football Focus gave Leglue the best pass blocking grade of the day for the Steelers at 85.1, and the push he got in the running game helped lead to Najee Harris’ biggest career rushing performance.

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