2019 Pre-Training Camp Roster Review: Inside Linebacker

The last time that we took a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in review, it was weeks before the 2019 NFL Draft took place. It would be safe to say that quite a bit has changed since then, and the changes apply to almost every position on the roster, some major changes, some minor.

We are closing in on the opening of the Steelers’ several weeks of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, however, so it would be a good time to pause and take stock of where the team stands at each position since the build-up to the draft as we head into the most critical process of the offseason.

Position: Outside Linebacker

Total Positional Figure: 7

Additions: 3

Deletions: 1

Players Retained:

Vince Williams: The most veteran defender on the team short of Cameron Heyward, Williams has been a full-time starter for two seasons now, but that could change depending on how Bush and Barron play in August. Even if he doesn’t start, he should still have a role as a true buck.

Mark Barron: Signed in March to a two-year, $6 million contract, he would have been a no-brainer starter were it not for the drafting of Bush. Now he will have to compete for a role, which could include a starting job.

Tyler Matakevich: The fourth-year Temple kid is still living his best life doing what he loves. He knows he’s a special teams player, but he’s not going to stop giving everything in every defensive opportunity he gets, including on the practice field. As a standout special teamer, he should be safe.

Ryan Shazier: Shazier, of course, is already on the PUP list. He is a part of the team though, so he’s going to get talked about. The biggest thing we’ve heard from him recently is that he said that supposedly, doctors have told him it is possible that he may be able to play football again someday. It would be remarkable, and highly emotional, if that were to ever happen.

Tegray Scales: A futures signing back in January, he’ll compete for a spot at the bottom of the roster, or the practice squad. He was highly productive at the college level, but doesn’t have the physical attributes that translate well to defense at this level.

Players Added:

Devin Bush: The Steelers liked him enough to trade first-, second-, and third-round picks to go up and get him. He’s athletic, he’s smart, he’s a hard hitter, he seems like a great kid off and on the field. The only question is how many snaps he’ll play in the opener, and if that will include the first snap.

Ulysees Gilbert III: The other inside linebacker taken in the draft, Gilbert is another great athlete at the position. A sixth-round pick out of Akron, he knows his ticket is through special teams.

Players Deleted:

Jon Bostic: The Steelers released Bostic on the same day that they drafted Gilbert. They knew at that point that they were not going to have room for him, having added two starting-caliber players and not viewing him as a special teams resource.

Notes and Camp Outlook: 

This will easily be one of the most exciting positions to watch this summer, and for multiple reasons. Not only is it the area in which the Steelers devoted the most influx of resources, bringing Bush and Barron in particular, it’s also one where potentially both starting jobs are up for grabs.

It’s not just the starting jobs but also roles that will have to be settled out between Williams, Bush, and Barron. Behind them, the battle for the fourth and a potential fifth roster spot will be interesting as well. Can Gilber show enough to make the roster?

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