You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.
In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.
When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.
Topic: How likely is third-year outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo to make the 53-man roster?
For the past couple of years, the Steelers have carried five outside linebackers. Though that is not uncommon, it seemed to have become the norm. Heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, they return four of those five linebackers, minus Jarvis Jones.
Based purely on the perceived pecking order by the end of last season, it would seem that Chickillo was ahead of Arthur Moats, when they needed somebody to start while Bud Dupree was out. But that won’t be the case anymore.
While he had a couple of hustle sacks, Chickillo on a down-to-down basis may have been the Steelers’ least effective pass rusher, certainly less effective than their starters, and less effective than Moats as well, who has always been at least competent throughout his tenure with the team.
We are looking at a draft in which it is very realistic that the Steelers draft two outside linebackers, though, and that will most likely mean that one currently on the roster will not be in September. Chickillo has an edge in being a core special teamer, but he also has the burden of retaining eligibility for the practice squad—cue exultations that he will obviously be claimed.
Let’s assume for this scenario that the Steelers do draft a pair of outside linebackers, and they do so within the first four rounds. Let’s also assume that both of them are going to make the roster. What happens after that?
I don’t think we have an answer in April. Chickillo and Moats will have to compete for an opportunity to retain their roster spot. In Chickillo’s favor is a cheaper contract. In Moats’ favor is more consistent pass rushing, an exemplary locker room guy, and greater versatility within the defense.
Which side do you lean closer toward?