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: ILB Mark Robinson
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Advancing from a fringe roster candidate to being discussed as a potential starter in 2023, it’s fair to say that the seventh-round former running back’s stock was on the rise over the course of his rookie season. He remains raw but perhaps trainable, if even for a limited role.
Could Mark Robinson be the Steelers’ next Vince Williams? Perhaps partly. Williams was always a student of the game, on defense, and it’s no surprise he pursued coaching soon after he retired. I believe, if I’m not mistaken, that his father was even a coach.
That’s not to question Robinson’s interest in the nuts and bolts of football, but he didn’t grow up playing inside linebacker. He was a running back, in fact, which is probably the one thing people know about them if they know anything about him.
The point is, Williams was always more than a thumper. He was smart and instinctive, and that helped him overcome any perceived physical limitations his game might present as the league moved into a more athletic direction at his position.
Robinson is not an elite physical specimen, either, but he shares a few key traits with Williams, including his penchant for smacking anybody near him with the ball. Both players are aggressive on and off the field in pursuing their ambitions, something Robinson mentioned during training camp.
Regardless of whether or not he’s going to become the next Vince Williams, multiple people have reported, or at least speculated, that the Steelers are quietly harboring optimism about him. Even the potential that he will develop into a starter for the defense this season.
That shouldn’t take anybody by surprise after he played 37 snaps on defense in the final two games of the season. That included 26 snaps in Week 17, which was half of the Steelers’ defensive total in that particular game, registering seven tackles.
Sure, we certainly saw some of the limitations that his game currently presents, particularly with regards to the nuances of playing in zone coverage, but that just means that this offseason will be an important one for him as he gets the game to slow down for him.
He will have a new position coach working with him in Aaron Curry, with now both Brian Flores and Jerry Olsavsky gone. If Curry can help develop Robinson, it would be quite a little feather in his cap in his first job as a full-time primary position coach in the NFL.