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: Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva will make the All-Pro list for the first time in 2019.
Explanation: The Steelers have had three linemen in the Pro Bowl for the past two years, with Villanueva being one of them. However, he is the only one in that group that has yet to be named All-Pro.
Yes, he will, for two reasons. One, because he is coming off the best season of his career as he is adding a great measure of consistency to his game. Two, because the Steelers are going to be a more accomplished team in 2019, and that is going to give him a boost to his recognition.
The All-Pro team is not nearly driven by popularity the way the Pro Bowl is, but nevertheless there is a frequent correlation between members of the list and teams who have done well. The Steelers having a better season this year will increase Villanueva’s chances of making the jump into that more exclusive territory.
Most important, though, is his continued progress. He has been at it for a while at this point, but he looked more comfortable and confident than ever last season, and that was especially evident in pass protection. The more numbers he can help the offense produce, the more he’s going to get noticed for it.
But cracking the All-Pro list is always very difficult, and even more so for tackles than for interior linemen. Left tackle in particular is the premiere pass-blocking position, and there he has to compete with the likes of David Bakhtiari, Terron Armstead, Tyron Smith, Andrew Whitworth, and many others. The point is, it’s a crowded field, with a waiting list.
And while Shaun Sarrett may well be capable of taking over for Mike Munchak, the fact of the matter is that it’s better to have both of them than only one. It’s hard to imagine him benefitting in any way from Munchak’s departure, certainly. In fact, he seemed to take it the hardest, even though he was happy for his former coach.