Now that the regular season 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 have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season 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 reasoning. 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. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: DL Isaiahh Loudermilk
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The rookie defensive lineman has generally been on an upward trajectory, and stepped up and played well on Sunday in a limited role, which could be much bigger this week if Chris Wormley is unavailable.
The Steelers’ decision to trade away a 2022 fourth-round draft pick in order to acquire a 2021 fifth-round pick, and then to use it to draft defensive lineman Isaiahh Loudermilk out of Wisconsin, was roundly criticized at the time.
However, while he has certainly looked like a raw rookie quite a few times, he has also shown a lot of growth, as well as the building blocks for a prototypical 3-4 Steelers defensive end. We saw some of that on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans with the way that he was able to two-gap against the run.
Loudermilk drew comparisons to “a young Cameron Heyward” multiple times during the offseason process from coaches and players, which is high praise indeed—though Heyward didn’t start until his third season.
It goes without saying, obviously, that him even approaching anything like Heyward would be a draft steal. Heyward is one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL, which remarkable career longevity at this point, and is the personification of Steelers football in all the best ways.
Loudermilk is a long way off from that, but it’s not like he was ever the one fueling that kind of talk—and really, it’s on me for even bringing it up here. The point today is simply to acknowledge that the rookie did a nice job in his allotted snaps the last time out.
And we can only hope that it’s a building block to continued improvement, and a path toward consistency, which can see him develop into a regular contributor—another Wormley or Tyson Alualu. Who knows? Maybe even a starter someday.