Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: DL Isaiah Buggs
Stock Value: Up
Will Isaiah Buggs go back to being a weekly inactive next year? It’s too soon to answer that, but he’ll have a decent shot at competing for a helmet in the likely event that Javon Hargrave leaves in free agency. Of course, the Steelers will also be likely to seek a direct replacement for Hargrave.
I wouldn’t assume that Daniel McCullers is set in stone to be the number two defensive tackle again, though. That said, I’m not sure we can really say what Buggs is. This year, reportedly, the coaching staff actually asked him to drop weight, coming in as something of a tweener, so they may be looking at him more as an end and sub-package player, rather than somebody who can play 3-4 nose.
Those are questions for months down the road, at earliest, however. This particular assessment is about what we saw last week, and Buggs did have a solid game in the finale against the Baltimore Ravens, at least able to put some good reps on film. Even with Stephon Tuitt going down and him getting a helmet most weeks, he still didn’t play a ton of snaps.
But as the season went on, he did get better at making the most of the few snap opportunities that he was given. He had just one tackle against the Ravens, but it was a solo tackle on first down for no gain. That was on a meager seven snaps. He never played more than 13 snaps, and that was the first game after Tuitt’s injury. Since then, his high for a single game was 10 snaps, and as low as two.
In all, he finished the season with a whopping three tackles in about 75 snaps, with two of those tackles recorded over the final two weeks of the season. He is showing the ability to use his hands well, an important trait for a young defensive lineman, so if we see growth out of him heading into year two, that could be potentially exciting.