With the 2022 new league year, the questions will be plenty for quite a while, even as the Pittsburgh Steelers spend cash and cap space and use draft picks in an effort to find answers. We don’t know who the quarterback is going to be yet—even if we have a good idea. How will the offensive line be formulated? How will the secondary develop amid changes, including to the coaching staff? What does Teryl Austin bring to the table—and Brian Flores? What will Matt Canada’s offense look like absent Ben Roethlisberger?
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: Isaiahh Loudermilk will not make the 53-man roster in his second season.
Explanation: A 2021 fifth-round draft pick, whom the Steelers traded into the round to get, Loudermilk dressed for nearly every game for which he was healthy last season. He ultimately played over 300 defensive snaps, but he wouldn’t have played at all were it not for injuries, and they’ve added depth to the defensive line room.
He won’t make the 53-man roster this year, and it won’t be an indictment of his talent, either. The Steelers just have too much in that room right now with Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu set to return from injury, the 2021 in-season acquisition of Montravius Adams, and the drafting of third-round pick DeMarvin Leal.
To even begin to entertain carrying Loudermilk, you would have to either start with Tuitt not playing, which is unlikely, or the team carrying seven defensive linemen, which is also unlikely. And even if they do carry seven, Carlos and Khalil Davis will have something to say about that. And they offer better inside-outside versatility. Due to circumstances, neither of them really got to show themselves up last season. They will this year.
The Steelers didn’t even have a fifth-round pick last year and they gave up a future fourth-round pick specifically to draft Loudermilk. This is a guy they targeted because they liked him a lot, and they did that at a time when there were no concerns about Tuitt’s future and Carlos Davis was coming off of a promising rookie year, and there was still optimism about Isaiah Buggs, as well.
And the thing is, he at least met or exceeded any reasonable expectations they could have had for him during his rookie season. This is a player they drafted for the purpose of developing for the future. If they have to carry seven defensive linemen to do it, they’ll do it. They can stick somebody on special teams if they have to, which they’ve done before. Maybe Leal can run down some kickoffs.