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: Jaylen Samuels will finally be the ‘offensive weapon’-type player that Todd Haley swung and missed on multiple times (Chris Rainey, Dri Archer).
He doesn’t look suited, at least initially, to be a sort of workhorse back, but given a limited number of touches, Jaylen Samuels certainly has the capability of adding a dimension to the offense that they have experimented with over the years.
At 6 feet, 225 pounds, Samuels doesn’t offer blazing speed, but sufficient speed. He may lack a defined position, but you don’t need to put a name to a player who will make plays, and he has the ability to do that.
Because of his ability to perform in a number of different roles, the offense can employ him in ways that exploits whatever look the defense is in that best favors Samuels when he is on the field. His ability to contribute in other areas also prevents issues that others like Rainey and Archer had, when their presence tipped off what was coming.
Samuels may have shown a knack at lower levels for scoring points, but how many players have we seen with a similarly prolific background that came into the NFL and did very little, if anything? Terrell Watson rushed for nearly 5000 yards with 61 touchdowns in college over three seasons. He had about 4000 yards and 52 touchdowns over his last two seasons.
Samuels can catch the ball, but like Archer, he is not a natural receiver. He has made some quality catches, but he has his drops and double-clutches. If moved to the slot, he risks being covered by a superior athlete. Out of the backfield, he doesn’t have the experience, as he hasn’t received a lot of work on traditional carries.
He may offer a couple of explosive plays here and there—even James Conner did that last year—but as a game-in, game-out fixture, that will be hard to come by, and not just because Le’Veon Bell stays on the field.