Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: Jake Rodgers
Stock Value: Even
Evaluation Type: Minor, Short-Term
Reason: Quality of Reps
The Steelers are looking for a backup tackle, and they are hoping that it will be rookie third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor, but if he is not ready, and the team does not bring in anybody else via free agency or trade, then it is a job that will have to fall to somebody like Jake Rodgers.
Which is certainly curious, considering the fact that he has never been on a 53-man roster before. Originally a seventh-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2015, Rogers is on his sixth team since then, and he is in his third stint with the Steelers.
He was in Pittsburgh since after the draft last year through the final cutdowns, and then served two brief stints on their practice squad. He signed a Reserve/Future contract with the Houston Texans on the first day of 2018 (before the Steelers’ season ended), but when the Texans let him go in May, Pittsburgh claimed him to bring him back.
He now has a golden opportunity in front of him. Last year’s backup tackle, Chris Hubbard, is gone after signing a long-term contract in free agency with the Cleveland Browns. The top candidate to replace him this year was Jerald Hawkins, a third-year former fourth-round draft pick, before he suffered a season-ending injury.
The Steelers signed Bryce Harris after Hawkins was injured, but while he has NFL experience, it hasn’t been a very positive one, so I wouldn’t necessarily argue he is more likely to win a roster spot than is Rodgers.
Still, Okorafor is the front-runner. The main thing that has changed is that now there might actually be room for a ninth lineman, but Hawkins’ injury makes it less likely that they would bother carrying that many on the roster. Rodgers should be a favorite for the practice squad, however.