Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, 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 offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
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: DL Carlos Davis
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Initially perceived as a fringe candidate to make the team, 2020 seventh-round defensive lineman Carlos Davis not only made the 53-man roster over a veteran amid a limited offseason with no preseason games, but even moved up the depth chart.
While there were some who were quick to buy into his potential as an athlete, Carlos Davis came out of Nebraska with a lot of question marks about how he would transition to and develop in the NFL. The assumption by many, including myself, was that it would be hard for him to make the 53-man roster.
That assumption was waylaid by the team’s surprising willingness to finally part with Daniel McCullers, even after just losing starting defensive tackle Javon Hargrave. That opened the door for Davis, or perhaps he opened it for himself, giving the coaches the comfort of moving on with a rookie.
Initially starting the season as a healthy scratch behind second-year Isaiah Buggs, who showed some potential as a rookie, Davis eventually passed Buggs on the depth chart, and the latter became the healthy scratch—which perhaps was the source of a minor dust-up between the two during a late-season game.
He only logged a total of 47 snaps on defense during the regular season (plus five more in the postseason), but the fact that he even got on the field at all and contributed is exciting, hopefully an indication that he can develop into a rotational factor.
Again, it was made all the more remarkable by the fact that there were no Spring workouts this past season, and especially the fact that there was no preseason. While the NFL may be transitioning to a more virtual offseason, preseason games will never fully go away.
Yet he, as a potential ‘longshot’, defied the odds and was able to show with limited opportunities that the coaches should believe in him. Believe in him enough to be put on the team, first, and then believe in him enough to dress for games, and even over another player. And even when they promoted another lineman who contributed on special teams, giving them seven, which they’ve never carried before on a long-term basis.