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: Marcus Allen will have some kind of established role on defense this season.
Explanation: There was a lot of talk about Marcus Allen, the second-year safety (the other second-year safety), but in the spring about the potential for him to develop into a defensive contributor with an established role in 2019. So far that hasn’t exactly been evident, though he has gotten some work as a dime defender.
While his opportunities in training camp to date haven’t quite matched up to what might have been anticipated based on the way that he was discussed in the spring, the fact is that there remains plenty of time for that to develop. It’s worth keeping in mind that he missed much of the offseason a year ago due to injuries as well.
The Steelers drafted Allen, even though they already had five safeties at the time (even six with J.J. Wilcox) who would realistically make the roster when they drafted him, because they believed he could play. He is going to get this opportunity to show that in the preseason, where he performed pretty well when he was on the field a year ago, and that will lead to a confirmed role on defense during the regular season.
The fact of the matter is that it has been Sutton emerging as the clear favorite so far to be the dime defender. The fact that he has been showing not just a willingness but an ability to contribute in run support makes the case for a safety to be the sixth defensive back less critical. As long as the slot defenders can tackle, that is the crucial part of the dime defense.
Right now, Allen still has to worry about competing for a roster spot. Kameron Kelly has been playing over both him and Jordan Dangerfield, in reality. The Steelers liked him a lot coming out of college and valued him where they got him in the draft, but he still ultimately has to justify is being on the field if he expects to be there. Up to this point, he hasn’t done anything substantial to demand into kind of regular role.