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: Sutton Smith had better be wary of Tuzar Skipper.
Explanation: While the Steelers are not guaranteed to carry five outside linebackers on their 53-man roster this year, I do think it’s likely, given the evident number of emerging viable candidates. The top four at the position appear to be cemented, but there are at least two and maybe even three others vying for one more spot, and draft pick Sutton Smith might not have the upper hand.
Tuzar Skipper, an undrafted free agent rookie out of Toledo—and college teammate of Olasunkanmi Adeniyi—has been flashing a fair bit in training camp so far, especially since the pads have come on, and seemed to have his best day yet yesterday, doing well to record wins in individual drills.
Sutton Smith, meanwhile, is still trying to adjust to the NFL and playing at his size, with the disadvantages that come along with it. He has a small frame, and that has been used against him with regularity so far against some of the team’s large tackles, such as the mammoth Zach Banner, who himself appears to be having a nice camp.
But when we’re talking about a fifth outside linebacker spot, we are primarily talking about special teams ability, and I do think that Smith’s attributes will translate very well there. He has the potential to be a standout in that department, and quite honestly, the Steelers could use another one after losing Darrius Heyward-Bey and L.J. Fort.
Skipper could obviously be good there as well, but I think he would have a harder time. it’s worth noting that Adeniyi isn’t much of a special teamer either, and it’s something that he has previously acknowledged as wanting to address earlier this offseason.
The fact that Smith might have a harder time being slipped onto the practice squad than Skipper could also hurt the latter. And then there’s always the possibility that, you know, after more than two days in pads the sixth-round pick starts to figure out more ways to win in spite of his size, and to show up on tape in the preseason the way he did in college. We’re talking about four days of practice here.