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: The Steelers will have a package on defense with Vince Williams, Mark Barron, and Devin Bush all on the field together as inside linebackers.
Explanation: Let’s be clear. This is stating that those three linebackers will be on the field together as linebackers. This means that somebody like Barron is not going to be explicitly used in some sort of hybrid role, even if he might carry out such a responsibility as dictated by the offense, such as carrying the slot in coverage.
It feels like it’s been a while since the Steelers have had had this much potential talent to work with at inside linebacker. And all it took was making some major investments in the offseason, ultimately costing them first, second, and third-round picks, and $12 million over the next two years, to draft Bush and sign Barron in free agency.
So they’re going to want to use them. And Williams, whom they’re still paying good money as well. They still haven’t seen Barron or Bush on the field, so they don’t know exactly what they have in those two until they get them in a game, so Williams should not be at risk.
There is a concentration of talent at inside linebacker, though, and you want to get your talent on the field. especially if Bush doesn’t start, I could definitely see them having a package where he’s brought on the field in place of a another position, depending on what the situation calls for.
Assuming that they do ever all get on the field together, though, it’s probably going to involve Barron moving to that hybrid role, so no, I don’t think they are going to have a ‘true’ three-inside linebacker package with all of them on the field together in that capacity.
More likely, if not Barron in some sort of safety role, Bush or Williams would probably line up as an edge defender. And that’s assuming this situation even comes about. They have a potential dime safety in Marcus Allen. They have outside linebackers. And they certainly have defensive linemen. Outside of the goal line, which I don’t think should count, don’t expect to see this.