By Jeremy Hritz
So, uh, yeah, this will be a pretty short analysis, as the Steelers currently list only one true fullback on their roster, that being Derek Watt. While some will assert that rookie Connor Heyward fits that profile, he offers greater utility, and running more with the tight ends, hence my inclusion of him with that group. Despite the position being limited to Watt, let’s take a look at what he has to offer, and what his future in Pittsburgh looks like.
It’s rare that brothers play on the same team, but that is true in more than a few instances for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Derek and TJ included. While the runner Watt does not play at the high-level that TJ does, he does offer leadership and hustle, as evidenced through him being named team captain for special teams.
If there is an area where Watt does thrive, it is in the area of special teams, racking up 22 tackles, and being one of the first players down the field on kickoff units. While some may argue that his play on special teams is worth his 4.7 million dollar contract, he has come up big in key situations. Running the ball, that’s a different story.
In two years with the Steelers, Watt has carried the ball 1 time for 1 yard, which happened to be for a first down, while catching 3 balls for 15 yards. In 2021, Watt was only on the field for 88 stats, which combined with his output, is very underwhelming. The reasons for his inactivity are unknown, and quite possibly it was the result of the constraints that an immobile Ben Roethlisberger put on the offense. Regardless, in order to justify his value, he must be used more, otherwise he is just an expensive special teamer occupying a roster spot for someone who could potentially add more value.
Derek Sticking Around
I can’t envision Watt being cut this camp, as he does add value, as I mentioned earlier, and quite possibly factors outside of his control limited his involvement in the offense in 2021. This will be an important year for him as if he does not showed an increased role, the questions may get louder as to why he is remaining on the roster.
Is 2022 the year Watt gets more than 88 snaps on offense? Can he benefit the offense? Is he capable of more than just being a quality special teamer? Here’s hoping he gets an opportunity to show that he can.