The last time that we took a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in review, it was weeks before the 2020 NFL Draft took place. It would be safe to say that quite a bit has changed since then, and the changes apply to almost every position on the roster, some major changes, some minor.
We are closing in on the opening of the Steelers’ several weeks of training camp, this time not at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, so it would be a good time to pause and take stock of where the team stands at each position as we head into the most critical process of the offseason.
Position: Inside Linebacker
Total Positional Figure: 7
Devin Bush: Bush is a star in the making. You know he has in him the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler and a consistent playmaker for this defense. He’s not going to produce six takeaways every year, but he will have a big impact for years to come.
Vince Williams: With Mark Barron gone, it’s Williams back up on center stage, likely playing at least 70 percent of the snaps or more, assuming health. The question is how they approach the rest of the playing time. Will a more athletic linebacker get on the field? A sixth defensive back?
Ulysees Gilbert III: If the former, Gilbert tis going to be that guy. Taken in the sixth round in the same draft as Bush, both are athletic and rangy players. He had an encouraging preseason and was active on special teams before a back injury ended his rookie season.
Robert Spillane: Signed from the practice squad halfway through the season, Spillane made the most of his opportunities on special teams, registering 11 tackles in just eight games. I also liked his preseason tape and think he could be a more mobile Matakevich who could potentially have defensive viability.
Christian Kuntz: Kuntz was in camp last year, but he was as much a long snapper as he was a linebacker. After coming over from the XFL, he is back, but is still a longshot.
John Houston: A college free agent out of USC, he’s not as athletically as you would like to see on tape, but he’s physical and can play in coverage. Needless to say, his upside right now is competing for a special teams role.
Leo Lewis: This young man has got some meat on him, coming in at 245 pounds (Williams is listed at 233). The problem is that he doesn’t always play to his size, even if he is reasonably athletic for his frame. Likely a practice squad developmental player in 2020 at best.
Players Lost: N/A
Notes and Camp Outlook:
Williams doesn’t need camp, but Bush, as a second-year player, is really being short-changed, I might argue particularly with the lack of opportunity for him to be on a field and call a defense. Both Gilbert and Spillane are also young backups who will be hurt by the limitations of camp and the preseason.