Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth 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 season and into 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 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: ILB Ulysees Gilbert III
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: After likely only barely making the 53-man roster in 2021, Gilbert finally established himself as a core special teams player last year, and late in the season even got some snaps on defense.
A former 2019 sixth-round pick, Ulysees Gilbert III has had a lot of attention from fans during that time after playing well during his rookie training camp, getting people excited about him being a potential steal. He didn’t quite live up to that build-up, but he has proven his value in 2021.
After dealing with back issues for two years, which has seen him spend most of his time on the Reserve/Injured List, Gilbert was able to play all 18 games last year, including the postseason, and he logged over 300 snaps on special teams, which included double-digit tackles on special teams.
He also scored a touchdown in the season opener, after Miles Killebrew blocked a punt. It did require a bit of coordination and agility to get the scoop and score, but it was mostly being in the right place at the right time.
I did find it interesting that the Steelers gave him some playing time on defense by the end of the season, as they were searching for answers at inside linebacker. Devin Bush and Joe Schobert haven’t exactly been the solution, nor Robert Spillane.
Still with one year left on his rookie contract, it wouldn’t be shocking if he has some sort of sub-package role in 2022 should his play merit it relative to the rest of the field. He actually did not have a good preseason in 2021, but he played better in-season, perhaps as he got his ‘sea legs’ back under him after dealing with back injuries.
Is he ever going to be the player we were excited about a few summers ago? Almost certainly not. But has he shown that he is deserving of a roster spot? I think the answer to that is yes.