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: CB James Pierre
Stock Value: Even
Reasoning: The opportunities to get on the field in recent weeks combined with the addition of William Jackson III leave third-year cornerback James Pierre in limbo as to what his role in the secondary will be moving forward through the back half of the regular season.
If not for a presumably minor injury that prevented him from finishing the Steelers’ last game before the bye week, James Pierre would have ended up in the starting lineup. He was inserted into the game after Ahkello Witherspoon, himself making his return after being out since week three, was benched.
Levi Wallace was already out for the game due to injury; presumably, he would have been the next man up if not for that. But Pierre has largely played well when he has had opportunities to get on the field this year.
Even with the recent addition of William Jackson III, who has ample starting experience, I think it at least raises the question of what the future holds for Pierre in 2022. Right now, it doesn’t seem as though there is a clear favorite for the number three cornerback behind Cameron Sutton and Jackson, assuming the latter is ready to play.
Is it so unreasonable to think that Pierre could be that third cornerback? It’s not as though either Witherspoon or Wallace have showcased their talents and demanded playing time. And Arthur Maulet has a fairly limited skill set, which they prefer to use situationally rather than on a full-time basis.
The thing with Pierre, of course, is that his struggles have come through long exposure. He has looked good in small doses, and he became very popular among fans who wanted to see what he could do in longer stretches.
We got to see that last year and he ended up getting benched because he kept giving up big plays. But he wouldn’t be the first cornerback to go through that. If I were to guess, he’s going to remain on the bench, but I can’t deny being a little bit intrigued to know what another long look at him would reveal—especially with a substantial boost to the pass rush with T.J. Watt returning.