The first line of inside linebackers for the Pittsburgh Steelers is very good. Everything behind that first line is unproven, lacks experience and is literally unknown. Let’s take a look at exactly what we are dealing this season.
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By The Numbers
2019 Opponent Passing Yards: 3,113 (3rd)
2019 Opponent Passing Yards Per Attempt: 6.7 (T-6th)
2019 Pass Rush: 54 sacks (1st) (*3rd year in a row leading the league)
2019 Opponent Rushing Yards: 1,753 (14th)
2018 Opponent Rushing Yards Per Carry: 3.8 (3rd)
2019 Rushing yards Allowed per Game: 109.6 (14th)
Vince Williams (8 seasons)
Williams continues to be one of the great stories over the last decade for the Steelers. The former sixth rounder out of Florida State was thought to be Special Teamer who maybe saw some time here and there spelling a starter but Williams has worked his tail off and has become one of the more important pieces to this defense. His strengths are communication and stopping the run and his pass coverage, while still not three-down worthy, has grown tremendously.
Devin Bush (2 seasons)
Bush was the guy the Steelers have been looking for since the tragic injury to Ryan Shazier. In his rookie campaign he recorded 89 tackles, 2 picks and four passes defensed. His speed and ability to cover running backs and tight ends helped turn this defense into the top unit in the NFL in 2019.
Ulysees Gilbert (2 seasons)
Gilbert is another in a long line of MAC players to find his way to Pittsburgh. He saw action in seven games before ending the year on the Reserve/Injured List. Gilbert has great speed and has already proven himself as a solid special teams player.
Robert Spillane (2 seasons)
Speaking of former MAC linebackers…. Spillane is a former Western Michigan Bronco who was in Tennessee in 2018 before landing with the Steelers last season. He spent time between the practice squad and active roster where he saw special teams action in eight games. Spillane is a smart player who does well against the run but has limitations in pass coverage.
John Houston, Leo Lewis
For every person that has screamed about adding better depth behind Ben Roethlisberger, perhaps the real yelling should have been about this position. I have to believe that there is still a question or two to be resolved here and it could well be in the form of a player who is currently in another uniform. Williams and Bush are set and I think Gilbert has a strong chance to be a good reserve but they need more here. Newcomers Houston and Lewis have good collegiate resumes but they will have to prove their worth to get a shot. Spillane will be my fall back here but I firmly believe the Steelers will find another player as teams make cuts during Camp.
Roster: Williams, Bush, Gilbert, Spillane