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: Steelers rookie Devin Bush will record 100 or more tackles in 2019.
Explanation: While it’s not a guarantee, there is a very good chance that 10th-overall selection Devin Bush is going to be a day-one starter, and see the lion’s share of the snaps at the mack linebacker position. Provided that that happens, he stands a reasonable chance of reaching 100 tackles.
Since 2011, there have been 26 rookies or first-year players who recorded 100 or more tackles. That includes an astonishing eight just from the 2018 season, including first-round inside linebackers Leighton Vander Esch, Roquan Smith, and Tremaine Edmunds. Second-round Darius Leonard, the defensive rookie of the year and an All-Pro, recorded 163 tackles, the most in the NFL.
In other words, there is no inherent obstacle into a rookie recording 100 tackles. And you have to figure that Bush will likely be put in a position that will allow him to do that. He has all the physical tools to accomplish it early in his career, it’s just a matter of staying on the field, in terms of health and the depth chart.
The Steelers did not have any one player record 100 or more tackles last season. In fact, they have not had anybody record 100 or more tackles in the past two seasons. The last player to do it was Lawrence Timmons in 2016, and he was the only Steeler since 2013 to have done it. since 2011, only Timmons, Ryan Clark, and Larry Foote have recorded 100 or more tackles for the Steelers. Ryan Shazier never reached 100 tackles in his career for a single season.
And this offseason, at least prior to the draft, they talked about wanting to try to give their rookies more time after having two wall-to-wall starters in the past two drafts, plus JuJu Smith-Schuster, who started for much of the 2017 season. They signed Mark Barron to play, and there’s a good chance he’ll eat significantly into Bush’s snap count, so he may not even play enough to get that.