2021 Offseason Questions: Will Marcus Allen Be Next Man Up At ILB?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?

These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.

Question: Will Marcus Allen be the first inside linebacker off the bench to start the season?

Perhaps largely to help better his chances of making the team and sticking around, the Steelers made the decision to move Marcus Allen in his third season from safety to inside linebacker. He became a fixture on special teams, and also logged over 200 defensive snaps, albeit due to injuries.

With Vince Williams retired and Avery Williamson still unsigned, Allen is now in competition to be the first linebacker off the bench behind starters Devin Bush and Robert Spillane. He will be competing against Ulysees Gilbert III and rookie fourth-round pick Buddy Johnson.

There is good reason to believe that Allen should be better this year. It’s not easy to transition to a new position, even going from safety to linebacker, especially when it comes somewhat on the fly, and without any spring work.

While he hasn’t said that he’s put on weight this offseason, it does look like he’s a bit bigger. He’s also talked about working a lot on his handwork, which is much more important in the middle of the defense than at the back level. So can he be a true linebacker in his second year at the position—so much so that he can be trusted to be the next man up, at least at the beginning of the year?

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