Player: ILB Mark Robinson

Stock Value: Down

Reasoning: The third-year veteran’s chances of contributing on defense took another blow this offseason during the draft. If Mark Robinson wants to get on the field outside of special teams, a line is forming ahead of him. After signing Patrick Queen in free agency, the Steelers added Payton Wilson in the draft. Robinson, of course, will continue to have a key special teams role.

Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin somewhat infamously said last June that he saw Mark Robinson as a potential candidate to compete for playing time…in 2024. As it turned out, Robinson only played four defensive snaps until the Steelers lost two starting linebackers. He averaged about 20 snaps per game on special teams, though.

Yet 2024 is now upon us and if anything, Robinson looks even further from an opportunity to play. The Steelers already made a huge free agency splash with Patrick Queen. However, they more recently added Payton Wilson in the draft, who likely jumps head of Robinson very quickly.

The Butkus Award winner in college football a year ago, Wilson is a far better player than Robinson. The latter has the advantage of two years in the NFL and in the Steelers’ system, but Wilson is a football junkie. He probably already knows the defense.

We also can’t forget the obvious fact that the Steelers still have Elandon Roberts. Under the best-case scenario, Robinson is still fourth in the pecking order, or the presumed one, anyhow. If Queen, Roberts, and Wilson are healthy, I don’t see Robinson playing meaningful snaps, on defense.

With that said, he played over 300 special teams snaps last season. In the second half of the season, he also saw about 150 snaps on defense following the injuries at the position. Yet the fact that they never really turned to him is notable. They played Mykal Walker and Myles Jack off the street ahead of him.

Even if he is more ready for a defensive role this year, he lacks the opportunity, most likely. I suppose we can’t dismiss the possibility that he holds Payton Wilson off for the time being, though. Perhaps he winds up as the next man up. Or perhaps he serves as Roberts’ backup and Wilson Queen’s.

As the season progresses, Steelers players’ stocks rise and fall. The nature of the evaluation differs with the time of year, with in-season considerations being more often short-term. Considerations in the offseason often have broader implications, particularly when players lose their jobs, or the team signs someone. This time of year is full of transactions, whether minor or major.

A bad game, a new contract, an injury, a promotion—any number of things affect a player’s value. Think of it as a stock on the market, based on speculation. You’ll feel better about a player after a good game, or worse after a bad one. Some stock updates are minor, while others are likely to be quite drastic, so bear in mind the degree. I’ll do my best to explain the nature of that in the reasoning section of each column.


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