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2021 Stock Watch – DL Isaiah Buggs – Stock Up

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: Up

Reasoning: While he finished his second season in the league on the bottom of the Steelers’ defensive line depth chart, serving as a healthy scratch in their postseason loss, the departure of Tyson Alualu and the prospect of a new year presents Isaiah Buggs with another opportunity to work his way (back) up the ladder.

A sixth-round pick out of Alabama in 2019, Isaiah Buggs came to the Steelers as an interesting late-round prospect, a stout defensive lineman with a bit of athleticism who could possibly offer something in the way of a pass rush. That’s something the Steelers have rarely had from their depth.

There was optimism about what he could do heading into his second season, some even feeling that he could succeed Javon Hargrave as the team’s primary nose tackle after the latter left in free agency. While that job went to Tyson Alualu, Buggs did open the year as the backup nose tackle, and also rotated at end, with the majority of his 131 defensive snaps coming in the first half of the season.

But he spent most of the second half of the season inactive. He did miss two games while he was on the Reserve/Covid-19 List, but including the postseason, he was a healthy scratch for four of the final five games, and it would have been all five if Cameron Heyward had not been resting in the regular season finale.

Buggs lost out on playing time to rookie seventh-round pick Carlos Davis, as well as Henry Mondeaux, a former undrafted free agent who was called up from the practice squad to play special teams. While that is never a good sign, there is always a new opportunity at the start of a new season.

He is, of course, still a young player, only heading into his third season. He does have more than 200 snaps of defensive playing time under his belt and two years in the Steelers’ system. With Alualu now gone, he and Davis may find themselves competing for the nose tackle role this Summer. It remains to be seen whether or not they add another body into the mix by then.

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