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: Daniel McCullers will double his snap count from 2018.
Explanation: In a somewhat rare occurrence, defensive tackle Daniel McCullers has shown improvement in his play in each of the past three offseasons, during training camp and the preseason. He’s firmly behind the top four defensive linemen at the position, and only saw a little over 100 snaps in 2018.
Simply put, Daniel McCullers has never played as well at any point in his career as he has this offseason. While he’s still firmly rooted in the world of the backup, his performance has been on an upward trajectory for years now, and one might argue that this is the first year in which his on-field performance truly merited a roster spot.
Combine that with the fact that he is in his second season working with Karl Dunbar, and the fact that Dunbar is in his second with the Steelers, and we should only figure that the line will only further reflect the way that he likes to work.
He has made it clear that he wants to utilize a rotation more than the team has in the past. While Javon Hargrave and Tyson Alualu would be a part of that rotation ahead of them, there still figure to be at least as many snaps available for him as he had in 2016, which was a little over 200.
The Steelers are already struggling to get enough playing time for Hargrave. They can’t afford to worry about how much McCullers might play. They spend upwards of 80 percent of their time without a nose tackle on the field as well, which is the role he’s best suited for.
There’s also the possibility that, at least at some point in the season, rookie Isaiah Buggs will pass McCullers on the depth chart and dress over him. The Steelers drafted Buggs as a player who can line up at any position along the defensive line. The veteran has already lost his job to L.T. Walton before, so it’s not exactly unheard of.