Everyone knows the narrative by now.
The Pittsburgh Steelers needed to find a player who could at least attempt to be the answer at inside linebacker in place of Pro Bowler Ryan Shazier — and they failed to do so.
They tried to move up in the 2018 NFL Draft to pick Rashaan Evans, but failed, and they didn’t address the position in the other rounds.
But maybe they didn’t have to, after all, they did go out and pick up free agent linebacker Jon Bostic, who played last year for the Indianapolis Colts. Bostic is one of the few linebackers who can call themselves a pure three down linebacker.
“I’m a three-down backer; it’s tough to find those nowadays,” Bostic told Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after his first time on the practice field with his new teammates. “I’m a backer that can play either or spot, I can play middle, I can play Will, it really doesn’t matter to me. I’ve done that throughout my career. I’m a bigger guy who can run. And I can cover as well. A lot of people don’t know that.”
To be honest, not many knew much of anything regarding Bostic when he was acquired by the Steelers. He was viewed as a journeyman player who could never live up the hype placed on him coming into the NFL out of the University of Florida.
So, what makes this any different? What happened which made him bounce around to three different teams in his short time in the league?
“To be honest, I got caught up in a trade and I got hurt once,” Bostic said. “Last year I got back on my feet and had a good year. Now it’s another year to build on.
“But I was put through the trades and whatnot for a reason. I learned a lot. It enabled me to meet a lot of different people, be exposed to a lot of different schemes. I bring that to the table, being able to play so many different fronts, so many different schemes.”
So Bostic now finds himself trying to not just get on the field, but to ease the loss of Shazier better than Sean Spence and L.J. Fort did last season. He realizes you can’t replace a player like Shazier, but he can go out and be the best linebacker he can be every day.
“I’m excited to get on field, definitely getting some rust off, learning a new playbook,” Bostic said. “But learning has never been a problem for me. It’s just a matter of getting reps and learning the guys around me. The scheme is almost exactly like we used in Indy. All these different things I definitely can being to the team and help the team. Whenever my number is called I’ll be ready.”
Bostic started Organized Team Activities (OTAs) in a backup role behind Tyler Matakevich, but fans should realize Bostic can, and probably should, move his way into a starting role alongside Vince Williams by the time the Steelers report to training camp in Latrobe this summer.
In the meantime, Bostic will have his nose to the grindstone preparing for his role, whatever it may be, with the Steelers in 2018.