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 Marcus Allen
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The Steelers entrusted third-year defensive player Marcus Allen to play a significant amount of snaps, more than 50 plays, against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night, playing both a traditional inside linebacker role and in their dime defense.
I bring this up a lot whenever I write about him, but the Steelers were really high on Marcus Allen when he came out of Penn State. They had already signed two safeties in free agency and used a first-round pick on one, in addition to retaining one starter and special teamer on the current roster, by the time they drafted Allen, but they still took him because the value was too good.
In between, they drafted James Washington in the second round and Mason Rudolph and Chukwuma Okorafor in the third, and they talked a lot about how these were need picks, with Rudolph a stab at landing a future starting quarterback (that hasn’t exactly worked out). But for Allen, it was about pure value.
Three years later, they are finally getting that value. They always knew that he would be an in-the-box player, and head coach Mike Tomlin frequently talked about him playing a dimebacker role. Perhaps they never really discussed him fully transitioning to linebacker as he has this season—largely, anyway—but they’ve been looking for his body type for a while.
They had some experience with the safety-to-linebacker conversion last year with Mark Barron. Rookie Antoine Brooks is another player cut from the same cloth, whom general manager Kevin Colbert described after drafting him as half a linebacker, half a safety.
Sunday was Allen’s first chance to really show himself at linebacker, and he was given the opportunity to play over 50 snaps. He wasn’t exactly flawless, granted, but we’re talking about the opportunity granted to him. The more he plays, the more consistency he’ll find. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler didn’t even rule out the possibility of a future starting role.