The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.
These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Can Buddy Johnson make a move up the depth chart past Robert Spillane?
The Steelers drafted Buddy Johnson in the fourth round last year because they liked him and thought that he could be an upgrade in their inside linebacker room. Based on what they got out of the position in 2021, it would seem like a safe bet.
The Texas A&M product didn’t get to contribute much last year, and just as he was on the verge of having some opportunities, he was taken down by a foot injury, but he’s healthy and ready to go heading into year two, showing well during the spring, according to some beat writers.
While he probably can’t be expected to compete for a starting job right away at the expense of either Devin Bush or Myles Jack, one can’t help but wonder if the reserve role were in play. Right now, that belongs to Robert Spillane, who looked just as shaky as last year’s starters did when he was on the field.
The Steelers lacked a physical presence at the second level against the run last season, and Johnson could potentially fill that role, similar to how Vince Williams was used at times.
He should have little difficulty making the team at this point, but a regular role for Johnson is far from guaranteed. He has a lot to show during training camp and the preseason to earn the coaches’ trust and shake up the pecking order. But that’s what they drafted him for in the first place.