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 Mark Robinson
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: The Steelers used their first of two selections in the seventh round to draft just their second and final defensive player, inside linebacker Mark Robinson out of Ole Miss, who steps into arguably the deepest part of the roster.
The Pittsburgh Steelers liked one thing very specific about linebacker Mark Robinson—his downfield play. His ability to deliver a hit with authority. That’s all he knows how to do right now, in a way, currently in his infancy at the position after having adopted it as a walk-on at Ole Miss as a running back.
It was enough to get him noticed, however, and to now have a chance to lock on to the 53-man roster later this year, even if he does come into a crowded position room. Still, it’s not one with an insurmountable depth chart.
While Devin Bush and Myles Jack are of course locks to start, the rest of the inside linebacker room is somewhat flexible. We can count on Robert Spillane returning as a special teamer and likely the number three, and last year’s fourth-round pick, Buddy Johnson, should be relatively safe provided that he shows progress.
The rest of the depth chart is expendable, with Marcus Allen, Ulysees Gilbert III, and Tegray Scales making up the ‘special teams’ portion of the position. If Robinson can earn a hat on a few of Danny Smith’s units, he has a good chance of sticking.
It’s important, as always, to have positive contributors to special teams that you can trust year after year. But there is a certain point at which a group of them become expendable in favor of younger players who have more upside.
Robinson hopes to show himself as one such player. He has a lot to learn, being new to the position, but if he can carve out a role for himself on special teams for a year or two while beginning to digest his craft, perhaps there is something there, especially if he can get a handle on coverage assignments.