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: Tuzar Skipper will ultimately be a better outside linebacker than Olasunkanmi Adeniyi.
Explanation: Olasunkanmi Adeniyi was the talk of the town during the preseason last year as he recorded three sacks and produced two forced fumbles. His former Toledo teammate merely waltzed right into Pittsburgh and upped the ante, however, recording five sacks with two forced fumbles, and he similarly showed the potential for stout play against the run.
Let’s face it, first and foremost. We all love talking about the longshots who make it, and there’s nothing better than a longshot pass rusher. The Steelers have two on their roster now, and even I can admit that’s really exciting. I have no idea if either Adeniyi or Skipper will ever do anything meaningful during the entirety of their NFL careers, but it’s not like we’re unfamiliar with the concept of a quality outside linebacker who went undrafted.
One thing Adeniyi has had issues with is staying healthy, as he has gotten injured twice over the course of a total of five preseason games, so that’s one thing that could ultimately hold him back. One might be able to argue that Skipper has also displayed greater agility turning the corner, and it helps that he has longer arms and a greater wingspan. And whatever hype Adeniyi entered his second season with, Skipper will also have the chance to make a similar second-year improvement.
The first thing Skipper needs to worry about is making sure the Steelers know he is ready and able at all times to play on special teams. If he can get on the field for special teams, then his roster spot will be much safer, and you can’t be a good outside linebacker if you’re not on the roster.
Right now, Adeniyi is definitely the more developed pass-rusher, so Skipper will have to prove he can catch up. Adeniyi spent the offseason working on his repertoire and counters, and his speed-to-power is probably something he’ll always have over Skipper. While neither of them yet have an NFL resume, Adeniyi is the more complete player right now.