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: Veteran nose tackle Daniel McCullers is a virtual roster lock.
Explanation: McCullers has already survived the roster cut five times and has been re-signed twice now since his rookie contract expired. All this in spite of the fact that when he does dress, he doesn’t get to play much. The team has had a lack of presence of linemen with his body type, which has made things easier.
There are two things that almost surely make him a lock to make his sixth roster a month from now. One is the fact that the Steelers don’t really have anybody else like him, a big space eater. All the other possibilities, like Isaiah Buggs, Lavon Hooks, Winston Craig, or Greg Gilmore, don’t offer the same sort of size, nor do most of them have notable athleticism to make up for it.
Then there is the fact that McCullers is actually having another good camp, according to Alex Kozora. With respect to his offseason work, 2018 was the best year of his career, even if it didn’t translate into much playing time during the season. He is performing well once again in Latrobe, even if he will in all likelihood never live up to whatever lofty potential that was seen in him, despite being a sixth-round pick.
The Steeler already showed in the past that they were willing to use L.T. Walton as the immediate backup to Javon Hargrave. So you’re not going to tell me that somebody like Buggs, or Hooks, or even Tyson Alualu, could not serve in that role in a pinch if it was toward the effort of putting the best six players along the defensive line on the 53-man roster.
Regardless of what he shows in practice, McCullers has still been a fairly low-impact player on the field, retaining some of the same issues that he entered the league with, including poor reaction time and leverage problems. Despite his size, he doesn’t push the pocket as much as you would want, which is why the door is open for somebody to beat him out.