Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason and everything that means. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.
Player: Isaiahh Loudermilk
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: The second-year defensive lineman spent much of the regular season dealing with an injury and lost his spot in the rotation in the process. His playing time dropped considerably after a brief spurt of action necessitated by the injuries of others.
The Steelers using a third-round draft pick on a defensive lineman was not a good sign for Isaiahh Loudermilk, a fifth-round pick from the previous season. By that point, they were already looking at a depth chart consisting of Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Montravius Adams, Chris Wormley and then the rookie DeMarvin Leal. With Carlos Davis and his brother Khalil lurking as well.
In other words, it wasn’t even clear that Loudermilk was going to make the 53-man roster. But the Steelers elected to carry seven defensive linemen, an extremely rare decision for a 3-4 team. Still, he was inactive for the first five weeks while recovering from an injury suffered in training camp.
Opportunity arose for him when Leal, who had jumped in front of him and was serving a role in T.J. Watt’s absence, went down with an injury and was placed on the Reserve/Injured List. He played over 60 snaps in a three-game period, but his workload quickly plummeted after that.
With Leal back after the bye week, Loudermilk’s playing time waned until Chris Wormley suffered a season-ending torn ACL in week 14. He got a handful more snaps, at least until the finale, when he played 17.
For his 116 snaps of action on defense, Loudermilk managed seven tackles, one of which was a tackle for loss. He did not record any other statistics, however. The general opinion is that overall, he played better during his rookie season.
2023 will be an important year for Loudermilk to prove that he can belong on a regular basis. Chances are the Steelers will address the defensive line this offseason in such a way that there will not be a guaranteed roster spot available for the former Wisconsin Badger. But it will be there for him to earn it, and there’s no problem in that.