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: ILB Miles Killebrew
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: With the Steelers using a fourth-round draft pick on inside linebacker Buddy Johnson, the chances of free agent pickup Miles Killebrew playing have taken a slight hit.
While the Steelers made the decision to ink a deal with Miles Killebrew primarily on his ability to perform on special teams, everything ultimately comes down to a numbers games when it comes to the 53-man roster. Pittsburgh does have a lot of inside linebackers right now.
Devin Bush, Vince Williams, and Robert Spillane should all be regarded as locks to make the roster. Johnson as a fourth-round pick is a good bet, as well — they very rarely fail to make the first cut. That’s four right there, and then you have Marcus Allen and Ulysees Gilbert III before even addressing Killebrew.
Both Allen and Gilbert come with their limitations, of course. Allen was a safety until last season. But he did get time on the field, and even had a sub-package role as an injury replacement while also becoming a regular contributor on special teams. Gilbert has dealt with a series of back injuries during his first two seasons, but his athleticism continues to intrigue me if he can just stay on the field.
At the end of the day, though, the Steelers have an inside linebacker room that is at least seven-deep right now in terms of rosterable talent, along with others like Tegray Scales. It’s obvious that at least one, if not two, and possibly even three of that top seven group will not make the cut.
All indications to date have implied that the team is viewing Killebrew as a linebacker, but he has a background as a hybrid safety as well, which can obviously play in his favor. His ability to play safety, and the fact that he has that flexibility, may be the biggest thing going for him outside of his special teams skills, which keep him in the hunt for a job. It is worth noting that his deal contained no guarantees.