Now that we’ve said goodbye to all of the prominent members of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster from a year ago, it’s time to introduce ourselves to the new blood. Many of them, of course, are draft picks, but the team also ended up picking up numerous players via free agency, the majority of whom we’ll likely be seeing in-season at some point.
Roster turnover is an inevitability in the NFL, but the 2021 season marked greater change than normal. Some of those adjustments will be accounted for internally, but it will also require the supplementing of a number of new components, which we’ll be reintroducing ourselves to over the course of this series.
While the Steelers had a number of clear needs on offense that needed to be addressed, it was somewhat surprising to many that they entered the fifth round having drafted only one player on the defensive side of the ball.
It was perhaps equally surprising that their second defensive player drafted was at the defensive end position—and that it was Isaiahh Loudermilk out of Wisconsin, a prospect that many had targeted more as a priority free agent.
Not only did the Steelers draft him in the fifth round, they actually spent a 2022 fourth-round pick in order to get it, trading that selection in order to move into that spot. Last year, they traded their natural fifth-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for Chris Wormley.
The defensive line is arguably the Steelers’ deepest position, and their most quality, with Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Tyson Alualu all ranking high in numerous ‘best of position’ lists. With Wormley, Carlos Davis, and Isaiah Buggs, many felt the defensive line didn’t need to be addressed at all.
Perhaps it didn’t, but the Steelers liked Loudermilk’s potential quite a bit, and didn’t believe he would last until their sixth-round pick, so they made their move to get their guy. And to his credit, he seems to have said and done all the right things so far.
Coming from a small town, Loudermilk didn’t even play 11-on-11 football until he got to college, but just think how good he must have been to have been recruited to a program like Wisconsin after playing 7-on-7 football.
He was never really a standout on the Badgers’ defensive line, and he’s not necessarily going to be a playmaker type like Tuitt, who was a second-round pick, but could he carve out a career like Wormley, who was successful with the Ravens prior to being traded? I think so.
Guys like Heyward have really taken him under their wing so far this offseason, which will only be an asset for his development. It will be exciting to get an opportunity to get eyes on him during the preseason, starting with the Hall of Fame game, and whether or not he really plays like a mid-round pick.