The Pittsburgh Steelers have hit Latrobe for Training Camp as they begin their quest for a seventh Lombardi Trophy. The summer has come and gone (thankfully) with minimal excitement on the Steelers front. A truism of the NFL is that no good news can happen between the end of the Draft and the start of Training Camp. Over that time, most NFL news revolves around players getting suspended or injured. As we prepare for the formal beginning of the Steelers 2019 campaign, we’ll be taking a position-by-position look at the roster. Today we continue with the inside linebackers where the biggest change in the locker room will be the additions of free agent Mark Barron and top ten draft pick Devin Bush.
Other 2019 Training Camp Previews:
By The Numbers (ILB’s Only)
Tackles for loss: 16
QB Hits: 17
Interceptions: 1 (Vince Williams)
Vince Williams (7th year), Tyler Matakevich (4th year)
Williams started 14 of 14 games played in, racking up 76 tackles (3rd on team), one interception (scored TD), 4.5 sacks, 8 TFL and 10 QB Hits. While he is excellent against the run, his play in coverage leaves a lot to be desired. Matakevich started one game in 2018 and spent most of his time as a force on special teams, leading the team in tackles on those units.
Devin Bush (Rookie), Mark Barron (8th season), Ulysees Gilbert III (Rookie), Tegray Scales (2nd season), Robert Spillane (2nd year)
It wasn’t tough to notice, but Kevin Colbert finally took the inside linebacker position seriously by making it a priority to improve it in the 2019 offseason. Adding free agent Mark Barron was a heads up move, upgrading up the position in case the 2019 NFL Draft did not fall in the Steelers’ favor, which it ultimately ended up doing so. In 12 games started and played as a linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams, Barron totaled 60 tackles, 3 TFL, and 1 QB hit. Colbert also added to this unit from the NFL Draft. Bush was a top ten draft pick who should start week one and Gilbert III offers a very athletic and speedy skill-set that will be utilized on special teams in year one. Scales was signed in January to a futures contract and Spillane was signed to the 90-man roster in February.
After the locks, which include Bush, Barron and Williams, it becomes unclear who and how many will make this 53-man roster. Gilbert is a 6th round draft pick who has been clocked at 4.3 speed, which could be used on special teams on units that have been very disappointing. Matakevich has been the leading tackler on special teams for some time. Scales and Spillane have an uphill battle to make this team. If the Steelers choose to keep only four, it will be Matakevich battling Gilbert II, both who anyone can make a case for.
Barron is now around 215lbs, which is safety weight. Being paid around $4M, it seems the Steelers will find a way to get Barron on the field. Whether it be for Williams on passing downs, or as the dime-backer, remains to be seen.