Now that training camp 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: DT Isaiah Buggs
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The third-year veteran defensive tackle is running as the second-team interior behind Tyson Alualu, having started and played well in the Steelers’ preseason debut on Thursday.
After the Steelers drafted Isaiahh Loudermilk in the fifth round, I think a lot of people pretty much immediately started playing the numbers game and figuring out who was going to be the odd man out. I’d wager the majority who tallied the results landed on the name of Isaiah Buggs, the third-year former sixth-round pick out of Alabama.
It’s somewhat natural, really. He ended up losing playing time to then-rookie Carlos Davis a year ago, who seemed to be in-line to be Alualu’s backup this year—even the starter, before they got Alualu to re-sign.
But Buggs isn’t going away. In fact, he played rather well when given the opportunity to start in the Hall of Fame game last week, perhaps spurred on by last year’s struggles. We should also keep in mind that he missed time in 2020 after being diagnosed with COVID-19, so that could have affected his ability to perform as well.
The thing is, Davis played well, too. There’s a battle brewing, and it’s not clear whether or not the Steelers can somehow manage a way to swing both of them. They could either opt to keep seven defensive linemen (they did carry seven for much of last season), or they could do something mildly surprising, like letting Chris Wormley go, or Loudermilk, for that matter.
Pittsburgh simply has too many defensive linemen that they like, with Buggs being one of them. To my eye, he looks like he is a little bigger this year, more like a defensive tackle, but would likely still use him as an end if necessary. That’s assuming, of course, that he does make the team once again.