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: DL Khalil Davis
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: The Steelers drafting defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal gives them a crowded room with the expected return of injured starters Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt, and likely sees the Davis brothers (of whom Carlos was already covered) on the outside of the roster bubble.
Let’s break down the presumed defensive line depth chart, shall we?
In the starting lineup, we have Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alualu, and Stephon Tuitt. Assuming that everybody shows up, this is set in stone. This is one of the most talented defensive fronts in football taken as a whole, assuming they are at their best.
Now, who is behind them? Montravius Adams emerged as the starting nose tackle last year in Alualu’s absence. He was re-signed this offseason to a two-year contract, so he’s likely to be the backup nose tackle. Chris Wormley started all season in place of Tuitt as the top defensive end reserve.
And then they added DeMarvin Leal in the third round out of Texas A&M. It would be shocking if he doesn’t make the 53-man roster, and that gives you your traditional six-man 3-4 defensive line room right there. We’re already pushing it up to an extremely rare seven if we want to include last year’s fifth-round pick who showed promise, Isaiahh Loudermilk.
So how does Khalil Davis make this roster? Well, he probably doesn’t, but his best hope would be for Tuitt to retire. Failing that, he must showcase positional flexibility. His brother played some on special teams, and he’s equally athletic, so he could fight his way onto the 53-man roster by showing that he can run down some kicks.
And, of course, he would be competing directly with his brother, Carlos, who is still very much on the roster, but who fell down the depth chart after spending a huge chunk of the season unavailable due to injury. Has he already fallen too far aback the moving train to catch up? The Steelers’ front office has taken steps to move on without him, so he’s facing an uphill battle. But at least he has his brother for company—unless or until one beats out the other for a job. That would be an awkward conversation.