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: Kevin Dotson will start a game as an offensive lineman this season.
Explanation: Although it looks like he is beginning his rookie season as the eighth lineman, he is the fifth interior offensive lineman. Stefen Wisniewski will be one snap away from playing, but that also technically means that Dotson is two snaps away from playing.
It’s not exactly going out on a limb to suggest there’s a fair chance Maurkice Pouncey will miss some time due to injury this season. David DeCastro at times looks to be an ironman sort of player, but he has also had his share of injuries. Meanwhile, Matt Feiler is moving to a relatively new position in terms of starting experience, which could lead to mechanical missteps and injuries.
Also take into consideration the unusual circumstances of the year. Teams have only been on the field for a handful of weeks. The pads have only been on for an even shorter amount of time. This is going to have the effect of increasing the likelihood of injuries occurring.
Finally, we must also weigh the possibility that Dotson can simply show to coaches that he is capable of playing, and they may prefer him to start if a guard were to go down, even if they wouldn’t have him play center. It could be based on the matchup as well if they need a strong player, like when they had Feiler start against Aaron Donald last year.
The only reason that he is even going to dress this year is because the league instituted a new rule that allows teams to dress an eighth lineman without it counting against their active list. It’s rare for the team to be down two starters along the line at the same time due to injury, and even more rare for it to come at the same group—either outside or inside.
On top of that, he has virtually no experience. He had a few good reps against some quality defensive linemen in a one-on-one drill in practice. He has no idea what it’s like to play against Cameron Heyward in a competitive setting. He’s just not ready. They’d find another way to put the line together if necessary.