Now that training camp is over with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Pittsburgh 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 was a rare bright spot for the Steelers yesterday, particularly on offense, particularly in the exhibition of his tenacity in spite of the team’s inevitable and sizeable defeat. Much of his 63 yards from scrimmage was well-earned and hard-fought yards after contact, both as a runner and receiver.
Okay, guys, listen. We’re going to have plenty of time for doom and gloom for the rest of the week. For the rest of the season, most likely. So why not start off the week with at least one positive note? Because Jaylen Warren’s play yesterday deserved it.
A rookie college free agent, Warren has thus far distinguished himself and shown that he belongs in all but one facet since he has arrived onto the scene, and that’s ball security. Yes, that has been an issue, though it wasn’t yesterday, and it is a correctable problem.
Basically everything else about his game has been encouraging, and that goes especially for the tenacity with which he plays and the manner in which that actually manifests productively. He’s not a big back, but he’s got power, and his forward drive allows him to churn out yards after contact. He even has some elusiveness, which he’s shown especially in shaking defenders after a catch.
Najee Harris rushed for 20 yards on 11 carries yesterday. Warren picked up 24 on five carries, and a fair bit of that involved him dragging defenders. He also had another 39 yards on four receptions. That’s not to mention his work in pass protection.
Indeed, he’s beginning to become something of a third-down back. He knows what to do in pass protection, he’s got sufficient hands (certainly better than Benny Snell Jr.), and he’s given us no reason to doubt his ability to win on routes and make something happen after the catch.
He’s been a very nice find this offseason and will only warrant more touches in the future, especially with Harris not exactly showing off his first-round pedigree as often as one generally—or Greg Cosell specifically, having described him as “pedestrian”—would like to see.