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: The Steelers surprised a lot of people, for multiple reasons, when they traded into the fifth round to select defensive lineman Isaiahh Loudermilk out of Wisconsin. That ensures that there will be significant competition for roster spots in the trenches this summer.
The Steelers already had seven defensive linemen who finished the 2020 season on the 53-man roster before entering the 2021 NFL Draft. They added another lineman to the mix in the fifth round in Isaiahh Loudermilk, trading a 2022 fourth-round pick in order to have the opportunity to pick him up.
Given that they liked him enough to make that investment in him, it stands to reason that they strongly believe he will compete for a roster spot. Outside of the top three players, I wouldn’t call anybody a surefire lock. There are certainly some more than others who are closer than others.
Unfortunately for Isaiah Buggs, he probably isn’t one of those as he enters his third season. I base this simply on the fact that he spent much of the second half of the season as a healthy scratch as then-rookie Carlos Davis began playing ahead of him — seemingly even drawing out a minor skirmish on the sidelines between the two during the regular season finale.
With that said, I wouldn’t necessarily hand a roster spot to Davis, nor to Chris Wormley or Henry Mondeaux, either. Davis and Wormley are the more likely of the two to be safe. But Mondeaux’s special teams capabilities will be attractive.
The good news for Buggs is that he can make all of this meaningless. He has a lot of talent and is a rosterable player. I expected him to become a rotational contributor this past season. Arguably the biggest reason that he did not is simply because others also stepped up. I have no doubt he will come to training camp motivated to prove his doubters wrong.