The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Offseason veteran Lavon Hooks will finally make the jump to the 53-man roster.
Explanation: Hooks, a former free agent, is entering his fifth offseason in the NFL, and his fourth with the Steelers. He had his strongest preseason to date last year and has spent the past two years on their practice squad. Pittsburgh has an opening along the defensive line right now with L.T. Walton having not been re-signed.
I don’t know whether or not it will happen—that’s going to largely depend upon how the team addresses the defensive line in the draft—but I certainly think it’s well within the realm of possibility. A player who is inside-outside capable, Hooks could even feature as the number five defensive lineman who dresses on game day.
The Mississippi product certainly can’t have all that much more to learn, as he has been doing this for more years than many of the Steelers’ starters and has worked with at least three different defensive line coaches. He knows what he’s doing, and there is value in that alone.
Last preseason, he put up seven tackles and two sacks in about 100 or so snaps, and was able to generate pressure. He often looked like one of the best players on the field when he was out there, albeit usually against second- or third-team offenses.
As much as I like Hooks, the fact that he hasn’t cracked the 53-man roster this far into his career—he is already 27—says a lot. Even Alejandro Villanueva was younger than him at the time he made that jump, and he couldn’t even get on an offseason roster, left alone a practice squad, for a long time.
And then there’s the draft, where I really expect the Steelers to address the position with at least one pick, and potentially with a selection higher than many might anticipate. Hooks will also already have to compete with Casey Sayles, who was in camp last year and had a strong season in the AAF.