Now that training camp is here with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Latrobe and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. 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: RB Jaylen Warren
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The rookie running back made a mostly positive impression as a complete player for position—including special teams—with one unfortunately major exception. Warren did put the ball on the ground, and that’s not a brand new issue.
Laudatory writing surrounding Jaylen Warren has to come with a caveat, and he would be the first to admit it. The rookie out of Oklahoma State ran well, showed adeptness as a pass catcher, moved his body well, showed genuine understanding and ability to pass protect, and also contributed as a special teams player, registering a tackle during the preseason opener.
But, he also fumbled during the game. And he has put the ball on the ground during training camp, as well. He had five fumbles during his college football career on under 500 total touches. That’s not a crazy amount, but it’s enough for you to be aware of.
Outside of potential concerns about ball security, however, Warren has shown a lot of potential that you have to be intrigued by. He runs like a bowling ball with legs, as Dave Bryan has said. But he really has some pretty good body control that I find myself particularly excited about.
He’s not a burner, but he has enough short-area quickness to do what he needs to do in the box. He has shown signs of having decent vision for a runner, and his hands and evasiveness as a pass catcher have been a nice bonus. Then factor in his potential to be a really plus pass protector.
And he doesn’t back down for a second from his role on special teams. He was asked after the game on Saturday night if he was best friends with special teams coordinator Danny Smith now. He said that he hopes so, and then he went on to talk about how he was frustrated at one point in the game that he didn’t have a special teams tackle yet. He started telling his teammates to ‘watch this’, that he was about to get one, and then he did.