Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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: OLB Olasunkanmi Adeniyi
Stock Value: Up
He may not have done much of anything last season, but Ola Adeniyi is entering the 2020 season in better shape than he was a year ago. This is because the Steelers earlier in the offseason released Anthony Chickillo, who has spent about the past five years or so as the team’s number three outside linebacker.
Behind T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, the only other outside linebackers who are currently on the roster are Adeniyi and his college teammate, Tuzar Skipper. In fact, they only have eight linebackers in total on the roster after also releasing Mark Barron and losing Tyler Matakevich in free agency.
The depth at both inside and outside linebacker is very thin in terms of in-game experience right now. Adeniyi and Skipper have virtually no playing time, while Robert Spillane and Ulysees Gilbert III on the inside have literally no playing time, defensively.
That doesn’t mean they won’t have the opportunity to show what they can do. It’s not the first time the Steelers will have ever gone into a season without experience behind their starters. In 2010, the bulk of the team’s backups at linebacker were rookies, including Jason Worilds and Stevenson Sylvester.
All four linebackers in question in this article have made the roster because of their performances in training camp and in the preseason, and most of them were former undrafted free agents.
Adeniyi has been here the longest, originally breaking out during the 2018 preseason with three sacks and two forced fumbles. But he spent most of his rookie season on the injured reserve list, and when he was finally activated, he didn’t have many opportunities to play.
He got injured during the preseason again this past year, which kept him sidelined for most of it, but he was able to make it back in time for the start of the regular season, and played in all 16 games, logging 62 total snaps on defense and 222 snaps on special teams.
He would register eight tackles during the season, including two on defense. Against the Indianapolis Colts, he and Trey Edmunds combined on a hit during a kickoff that forced a fumble, which was recovered by the Steelers. He and Jordan Dangerfield combined on another hit that forced another fumble on a kickoff, but it was recovered by the return team.