I have over the course of the past several seasons turned to a series of articles around this time of year in which I looked to explore the issues and questions facing the Pittsburgh Steelers during the upcoming season and trying to identify the range of possibilities in which any given scenario can end.
I started out with a dual series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take and switched last season to the Devil’s Advocate series. In an attempt to find a more streamlined solution with a title more suited to the actual endeavor, we are introducing a simple Buy Or Sell segment exploring whether the position statement is likely to be worth investing in as an idea.
The range of topics will be wide, from the specific to the general, exploring broad long-term possibilities to the immediate future of particular players. I will make an argument for why a concept should be bought into as well as one that can be sold, and you can share your thoughts on which is the more compelling case while offering your own.
Topic Statement: The Steelers will regret their failure to add depth at either inside or outside linebacker during the 2018 NFL Draft.
As we head into the actual football stages of the offseason, it’s fair to say that inside linebacker and outside linebacker might be the two positions on the team that have the least amount of depth. One could argue in favor of the tight end position as well.
At inside linebacker, they are depending upon a player new to the team who has an injury history to not only hold up all year but to perform at a high level and stay on the field for 98 percent of the snaps this year. And if he fails to do so, they are ready to pair Vince Williams with Tyler Matakevich, who spent his time on defense a year ago getting run over or biting on play-action in the team’s goal-line package.
Even if we accept the premise that Bud Dupree is a starter, to have only Anthony Chickillo as your secured backup at outside linebacker is really playing it fast and loose at arguably the most important position on the field. Dupree, too, has an injury history. Depth is perilously thin, or at least unproven, behind them.
Of course it’s only the end of April. A lot of things can still happen between now and September, including the possibility of the Steelers adding some free agents to the mix. They’ve been in contact with Arthur Moats and it would make sense to call him up now. There are market options for depth at inside linebacker as well.
And besides, all of this presumes injury. We don’t know that that will happen, or at least be much of an issue. The team believes in Chickillo and Matakevich as their number threes at those positions. The latter didn’t get his chance to show it when he injured his shoulder last year.