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 Carlos Davis
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: With the retirement of Stephon Tuitt, the defensive linemen lower on the depth chart, including Carlos Davis, now have a fighting chance to make the 53-man roster.
Let’s put it this way, with Stephon Tuitt not coming back, there is a chance that Carlos Davis remains a member of the Steelers’ 53-man roster at the start of the 2022 season. With Tuitt onboard, it was very difficult to envision that happening, with Tuitt, Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Montravius Adams, rookie DeMarvin Leal, and finally Isaiahh Loudermilk all likely having a stronger claim to a roster spot.
In case you didn’t feel like counting, or more humbly, cannot count, that’s seven names ahead of him. And the Steelers almost always carry six linemen. The math is still bad for Davis, but if he can perform well this offseason, and perhaps additionally offer value as a special teams contributor (something that is within his repertoire), then his case can be made.
Coming off his rookie season in 2020, a lot of people were high on the seventh-round pick. There was even a brief period of time, when it looked like Alualu was going to go back to the Jaguars, where we were talking about Davis perhaps being ready to step up into that nose tackle role.
Things did not go according to plan in any sense, and not just because Alualu returned. Davis himself was injured in the season opener, and he spent most of the rest of the year sidelined due to that injury. While they kept him on the 53-man roster for a pretty long stretch, they did finally move him to the Reserve/Injured List after the bye.
The Steelers activated him at the start of December, but he did not dress for four of the seven games played after that move was made. Given that he missed most of the year up to that point, I am not reading a lot into his inactive status during that time.
He does have the opportunity this summer to show the coaches that he can be a contributor. Leal may not be ready to be active on Sundays right away, so if he can dress as a sixth defensive lineman who works on special teams, including coverage units (something Henry Mondeaux has done in the regular season, and Davis did in the preseason), there’s a chance.
That’s assuming they don’t add a veteran between now and the start of the season to fill Tuitt’s roster spot.