The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Carlos Davis will (eventually) succeed Tyson Alualu as the Steelers’ primary nose tackle.
Explanation: Tyson Alualu is in his mid-30s, which generally means he’s near the end of his career. Carlos Davis flashed some potential as a rookie seventh-round draft pick last season that indicated he could eventually earn a larger role in the future, but we have a very limited sample size.
While it might be a small sample size, what we did see from Davis last year is that he has the tools to succeed in the role of defensive tackle. We already knew that he was athletic for his position. His reputation coming out of college was that he was an underachiever, but his talent was enough to at least get him drafted.
He wouldn’t be the first player who approaches his professional career, now a job, differently and with more commitment than he may have in college, with proper instruction and all of that other good stuff you don’t get in school.
And the reality is that Alualu isn’t getting any younger. He signed a two-year deal, but who knows? Maybe he only sees one year of the deal. Maybe his play declines and Davis starts over him at some point during that time. Or maybe he plays two more years and the young Nebraskan takes over after that.
We go through this a lot with young players, especially second-year players. We see flashes and we automatically place a standard upward trajectory on them. It frequently doesn’t happen that way. To put it bluntly, we were talking about Isaiah Buggs at this time last year the way people are talking about Davis now.
Davis put out some good tape, but at the end of the day, there’s very little of it, and for the most part, he didn’t play against great competition. His most extensive playing time came against the Dallas Cowboys, who didn’t have a scouting report on him. He has a long way to go to show he can be a starting nose tackle, and the odds are against players in his position.