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: OL John Leglue
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Going from the practice squad to a starter by the end of the season, I’m not sure any player on the Steelers’ roster had a better evolving outcome over the course of the year.
John Leglue had been kicking around on practice squads already before the Steelers ever got a hold of him. They first signed him to their own practice squad very late in the 2020 season, but it was enough time to show the coaches that he merited a Reserve/Future contract.
A five-position-capable player, Leglue expanded his versatility throughout the 2021 offseason, and managed to do enough to earn one of the team’s practice squad spots for offensive linemen that year. after Kevin Dotson was injured, however, it set off a chain reaction. B.J. Finney got hurt, and then J.C. Hassenauer. Pittsburgh needed a body, and Leglue was that body.
He first appeared in relief of Finney when Finney got hurt in Week 13 in the first game against the Baltimore Ravens, playing nearly every snap. At that point, there was nobody left healthy, so he just kept playing, starting the final five games of the regular season, plus the postseason.
In all, he played 475 snaps in 2021 as a first-year player. In terms of how he actually performed on the field, truth be told, his best asset was his motor and tenacity, which you certainly want to see in a player like him, who’s trying to make it in the league.
Even though he got an extended opportunity to start due to injury, I do not see a future starter in Leglue, at least based on his 2021 tape, but it is always entirely within the player’s power to change that conversation.
There’s no reason that he can’t continue to grow, after all, and he’s not lacking for size, anyway. Perhaps the Steelers’ next offensive line coach—maybe even Mike Munchak—can round him out into a complete player. For the time being, I could see him being one of the team’s backup interior linemen in 2022, for sure. Considering where he was at this time last year, that’s a hell of an achievement, and not dissimilar to the path that Hassenauer followed a couple years ago.