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: S Marcus Allen
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Seemingly revived from the scrap heap, Marcus Allen developed in 2020 into a regular contributor on special teams and a player whom the Steelers were willing to trust with defensive playing time as a box safety.
While it may or may not be temporary, Marcus Allen had an opportunity to be somewhat of an irregular but meaningful defensive contributor in his third season since being drafted by Pittsburgh in 2018. A fifth-rounder out of Penn State, he was a box safety the front office was high on, but he seemed to fall out of favor when he didn’t make the 53-man roster in 2019.
He hung around on the practice squad, however, and found his way back—after an arrest—to the 53, and became a more prominent contributor this past season. It is notable that he logged more than 150 snaps on special teams, for starters.
Perhaps more significant is the fact that the Steelers used him in sub-packages. But as I alluded to at the top, it could be temporary. They only began to do this while exploring creative solutions to replacing Devin Bush after he suffered a torn ACL, so when Bush comes back, the need for such avenues could be reduced.
At the same time, Pittsburgh’s top two slot defenders are unrestricted free agents, and it’s likely that they will lose at least one of them, so that’s another avenue through which he could potentially see future defensive playing time.
Head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert talked pretty heavily this past offseason, and after the draft, about their desire to identify hybrid players at the second and third levels. Colbert referred to Antoine Brooks as “half a safety, half a linebacker” after he was drafted, and Allen is very much the same type of player.
As long as they continue to value that profile, and he continues to make himself useful on special teams, he figures to have a home in Pittsburgh, at least for the time being. I don’t know that he really has the upside of developing into a starter, but you need contributors of all kinds, at the end of the day.