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 Isaiah Buggs
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: While he entered the 2020 season as the Steelers’ primary backup nose tackle and rotational lineman, for the most part, he lost that job as the year went on to rookie Carlos Davis.
Isaiah Buggs had a major advantage coming into the NFL, specifically coming to Pittsburgh. The Steelers’ defensive line coach, Karl Dunbar, was his own defensive line coach, at least for one season, during his college career when they were both at Alabama.
That perhaps helped him get off on the right foot, though while he did make the roster, he still spent the early portions of the season as a healthy scratch, behind Daniel McCullers, until Stephon Tuitt was injured. In 2020, he beat out McCullers for not just a roster spot, but the backup nose tackle job.
That job now belonged to Tyson Alualu rather than Javon Hargrave, but nevertheless, he was the backup. He logged 33 snaps in his first two games, but it declined to single digits for the most part after that. Then around midseason, he was inactive, with rookie seventh-round pick Carlos Davis getting a helmet.
For the most part, barring injury, that’s how it would remain for the rest of the season. But they did have some situations, with both Alualu (due to injury) and Tuitt (due to Covid-19) missing some time. there were a couple of games in which he played more than 25 snaps. But he was back to being a healthy scratch late in the year, including the postseason.
In all, he logged 122 defensive snaps in 10 games played, recording 11 tackles, with one quarterback hit. He also got into a minor shoving match with Davis in the final game of the regular season, and one can’t help but wonder if that was related to their respective playing times. I would be comfortable putting money on that being the case.
With Alualu and Chris Wormley both free agents, there is an opportunity for Buggs to not only stay with the team, but to move up the depth chart. One thing I don’t think he lacks is motivation, and after the step back he took, I think he’ll come in fired up looking for more out of himself and his NFL future.