Now that the 2020 regular season 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 are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: ILB Ulysees Gilbert III
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: With Devin Bush out for the season, it seems virtually assured that Ulysees Gilbert III will be dressing on Sundays for the foreseeable future. Because of his sideline-to-sideline speed, it is possible that he also ends up earning a defensive role, even with Robert Spillane filling in for the majority of snaps.
Somewhat surprisingly (to me), second-year inside linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III has been thrown on the backburner this season in favor of names such as Marcus Allen and James Pierre, similarly low-rung players who have been getting a helmet on Sundays above him, presumably for special teams purposes.
Most puzzling about this is the fact that Gilbert played 150 snaps on special teams last season in just seven games, so entering this year, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would continue to have that role, especially with the loss of Tyler Matakevich.
That hasn’t been the case. He has only dressed for one of five games so far, and that was due to the availability of an extra helmet due to injury. But with Devin Bush now sidelined for the remainder of the season, it seems highly likely that Gilbert will have no problem getting a helmet for the rest of the year.
In fact, it’s quite plausible that we even see him on the field. Head coach Mike Tomlin mentioned him, as well as Marcus Allen, on Sunday after the game as options, and they will be using the time that they have available to weigh them.
The thing that Gilbert brings to the table is speed, which is what they lost with Bush gone. Spillane’s athleticism is underrated, and, granted, Allen has speed as a defensive back, but Gilbert’s speed for the inside linebacker, like Bush, is rare.
Many were hoping even entering the season that we would see him carve out a role, perhaps as a coverage linebacker spelling Vince Williams. We may now see that role develop over the course of the next several weeks.