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: Lavon Hooks is not getting enough attention in the discussion for a roster spot along the defensive line.
Explanation: Death. Taxes. Lavon Hooks in training camp. Those have become the new three guarantees. Hooks has been around for a while but has also made plays and gotten better each year, spending the past two on the practice squad. With L.T. Walton gone, there is a roster spot open.
It can be argued that there is not just one roster spot available up for grabs, but actually two. Walton is gone, but Daniel McCullers’ roster spot should not be taken as a given, either, even though he was re-signed yet again. In spite of the fact that he dressed all year, he still played very sparsely.
Hooks has enough size and athleticism to allow him to play both inside and outside and be effective both against the run and the pass, which is the ideal for the Steelers in a backup defensive lineman, and does not describe McCullers.
And even if McCullers does manage to make the roster, it’s not a guarantee that Isaiah Buggs, the rookie sixth-round pick, does. Joshua Frazier last year is just one of many late-round defensive line draft picks who failed to make the team. Remember Ra’Shon Harris? Doug Worthington? Nick Williams? Even Alameda Ta’amu, a fourth-round pick, didn’t exactly work out, though he did make the roster.
McCullers and Buggs might not be guaranteed roster spots, but they certainly have better odds than a player who is going into his fifth (or is it sixth already?) offseason without having ever made a 53-man roster before, which describes Hooks.
And it’s not just they who will be pressuring him. Casey Sayles and Greg Gilmore are also back from last summer, and they got the chance to get some meaningful playing time in the AAF. This is a more competitive group at the bottom of the defensive line depth chart than we have had in a while, which is not exactly the ideal time for a long-running candidate to finally break through.