With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason. 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: While the Steelers have added nearly as many inside linebackers as they’ve lost, we have heard a number of times this offseason about how the coaches are eager to see what the second-year player can develop into.
Plenty of seventh-round picks don’t even make the 53-man roster. Mark Robinson did, in spite of the fact that he plays a position that is normally counted on for special teams, and which he wasn’t asked to do. Even that in itself says a little something about how the Steelers felt about him, that they would carry him in a spot typically taken up by a special teamer and let him sit and learn.
That’s what he spent his rookie season doing, or at least one would hope considering he was inactive most weeks. And then over the past two months they cleaned out the room. In fact, excepting end-of-season addition Tae Crowder, Robinson is the only inside linebacker returning from last season’s roster.
The Steelers happily watched Devin Bush leave in free agency. They didn’t blink when Robert Spillane signed elsewhere. They even released Myles Jack, and may have simply forgotten about Marcus Allen—as has the rest of the league—as he hit unrestricted free agency.
It’s true that they have added three linebackers in Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts, and special teamer Tanner Muse, but Robinson is still very clearly in the mix. It’s not entirely inconceivable that he challenges for a starting job if the Steelers really think that highly of him and they see him progress.
He has a steep curve coming from a running back background and is still learning the ins and outs of playing inside linebacker. We saw a good amount of that rawness in the playing time that he did get at the end of last season.
But the fact that the Steelers even gave him that playing time is meaningful, because it was completely unnecessary. And risky. They were still fighting for a playoff spot when they decided to put him on the field over a healthy Devin Bush.
Sure, Bush is Bush and it certainly seems as though the Steelers knew his time with the team was over, but you don’t put a player on the field you think is going to hurt you, or who you don’t want to see get some action, when you’re fighting for your playoff life. Nothing they’ve done so far this offseason tells me their opinion on him has changed at all. They’re not going to hand him a starting job—that would be idiotic—but they seem intrigued by what could happen.