Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth 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 season and into 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 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: Coming into the league as a seventh-round rookie, Tre Norwood exceeded expectations early on, quickly earning a regular role on defense, which varied in significance over the course of the year.
In terms of value, one can easily argue that nobody gave the Steelers more from their rookie draft class than Tre Norwood. While they yielded four starters with their top four draft picks, including a Pro Bowler (as an alternate) in first-round running back Najee Harris, the team got good sub-package play across about 400 snaps out of a seventh-round pick.
Norwood finished his rookie year with 38 tackles, including two for loss, with an interception and four passes defensed. He had another two passes defensed across 14 snaps played in the Steelers’ lone postseason game.
After experiencing upheaval in the secondary during the offseason, the Steelers turned to Norwood as one of their first options, as their primary candidate to start in the slot, playing more than 100 snaps in the first two weeks of the season.
That role was quickly scaled back, as he began to play closer to 10-15 snaps per game for most of the rest of the season when the health of the secondary allowed. That was a level of exposure that, for the most part, worked well for him and allowed him to contribute positively, primarily in dime defenses in obvious passing situations on possession downs.
Many believe that he is ready to take on a bigger role next season, though, even if it is unclear what role that would be. Would they make him their starting nickel defender, which Arthur Maulet ultimately took over by year’s end, if anybody did?
Or will they have a different plan for him? Early on, they were finding ways to move him around, which included having him role back to free safety and seeing Minkah Fitzpatrick slide down. But I don’t think they want to revisit that.
If he has one ‘best’ position, it’s probably free safety, but that is the Steelers’ most stable position in all of the secondary, making it a bit more complicated to get him involved. But if he earns snaps, he’s going to get them, some way or another.