Through all of the injuries and shuffles within the defensive line, there was one player who benefitted the most: Rookie Isaiahh Loudermilk. Loudermilk came in as a raw, unfinished product out of Wisconsin. Some even said the Steelers made a reach by selecting him in the fifth round.
After one season, I think the Steelers would be content with the amount of growth and productivity that they got out of Loudermilk. He was forced into action a bit after the injuries to the unavailability of Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu. Upon completing his rookie season, Loudermilk has one thing he would like to improve on most in the offseason.
“Yeah I’d say one big thing [to improve on] for me is pass rush. I feel [like I am] pretty solid against the run,” Loudermilk said Thursday via the team’s website. “There were just some things with my pass rush that I really want to hone in on a little bit more because I definitely feel like I was a little bit behind on that.”
Loudermilk has always been more of run-stuffing defensive lineman than a pass-rushing one, anyways. He racked up just eight sacks in college across 31 games. He wound up playing just under 30% of the Steelers’ defensive snaps in 2021.
With the progression also came some obvious growing pains. As for the pass rush aspect that he mentioned wanting to get better at, he had just one sack on the season. He also failed to register a quarterback hit or a tackle for loss. With that being said, he was able to show growth in the run-stopping part of his game.
“I feel like I wasn’t really making as much of an impact as I could have been. That’s definitely one thing this offseason that I really plan on working on.”
Loudermilk figures to be a crucial part of the Steelers’ future on the defensive line. At the bare minimum, he’ll be a much-needed depth piece in 2022. If Tuitt or Alualu doesn’t return or return to form, he could seek his way into more playing time in the way he did this season.