The Pittsburgh Steelers spent a whole lot of assets by way of free company and the draft in search of solutions, however there are nonetheless some questions that stay excellent about their 2022 roster and the way nicely it would perform when it comes time to snap the ball and really a recreation on grass relatively than on paper.
For me, the largest query exterior of quarterback is the within linebacker place and what it would appear like. I had extra issues with this space of the protection final yr than I did the defensive position, and consider the play of Joe Schobert, Devin Bush, and Robert Spillane was as a lot guilty for the poor run protection.
Will a more healthy Bush and the acquisition of Myles Jack remedy all the issues in the course of the protection? I’m positive it might take it to a extra palatable state. But if not, maybe there are some inside alternate options, equivalent to second-year linebacker Buddy Johnson—Adam Rank’s choice for Pittsburgh’s breakout player of the year, although not a very strong one. He writes:
The 2021 fourth-round decide is presently buried on the depth chart behind the newly signed Myles Jack and Devin Bush. But Bush, whose defensive grade from Pro Football Focus ranked 58th amongst linebackers who performed at the least 50 % of defensive snaps final season, has by no means fairly lived as much as the expectations set when Pittsburgh drafted him tenth total in 2019. With Flores on this workers, I’m in search of the 23-year-old Johnson to flash, or at the least get common defensive snaps. I’d additionally wish to shout out Alex Highsmith right here, so I can level again to this subsequent season when he finishes with 10 sacks.
The bet-hedging on the finish with Alex Highsmith isn’t a nasty thought, as he ought to actually be within the dialog as taking one other massive step ahead this season, particularly assuming that he can truly begin the yr wholesome this time round.
But the Johnson dialog, and whether or not or not he’ll get enjoying time, is an attention-grabbing one. For a thumper like himself, he’s not likely going to start out making a push till we get the pads on in Latrobe, and it is perhaps the preseason video games the place he opens eyes.
Recall that Johnson truly did begin to get some enjoying time late final season, albeit at a time when the within linebacker place was in a little bit of upheaval as a consequence of efficiency and damage. Then he was injured himself proper on the cusp of receiving the chance to really contribute.
The Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin, nonetheless, nonetheless stay bullish on his future, and if he’s the kind of participant that they believed he was popping out of Texas A&M, then it’s conceivable that they might discover a position for him on this protection, maybe not dissimilar to the one worn by Vince Williams in his last season in 2020.