I have always found it interesting to take a look back and reevaluate the beliefs and opinions we have held at a previous point in our lives. Oftentimes we find that our initial instincts were right on point and we were blessed with a keen insight on the matter. Other times we realize we were way off base. The ability to honestly recognize both instances is how we achieve personal growth as an individual.
Recently I was looking back at some of my Grading the Pick articles from the 2019 NFL Draft. Last year was the first time I had the opportunity to write any draft coverage articles for BTSC, and I admit I was pleasantly surprised after looking back.
Although I was far from perfect, especially with my initial reaction to the Diontae Johnson selection, I did feel I was fair and consistent with each grade and projection, all while trying to keep my personal preferences out of the equation. That is always my goal, although that is easier said than done.
One particular paragraph from my Isaiah Buggs article really caught my attention, mainly due to the overwhelming concern being expressed by so many Steelers fans concerning the nose tackle position in Pittsburgh.
That excerpt from my article was the following:
(First of all, what is his positional fit with the Steelers? Conditioning could very well determine his level of impact with the Steelers. Fatigue can make cowards of us all, and Buggs struggled with conditioning during his time at Alabama. He was dominate in spurts, but tired easily. If he added a little weight, he could prove to be a traditional run stuffing 3-4 nose tackle with some pass rush ability. If he dropped a few pounds, he could play DE and move inside to rush the passer. It will be very intriguing to see what the Steelers plans are for the young man. Buggs selection should help light a fire under a Shade Tree to say the least. The selection could also be viewed as insurance in case the Gravedigger eventually decides he is being miscast as a 3-4 nose tackle.)
By the way, before I go on, I gave the Buggs selection an A grade. I believed he was a great value pick at the point where he was selected, and I believed he had an excellent opportunity to develop into at least a solid rotational lineman. You know what, I still do. Nothing that happened during Buggs rookie campaign has changed that one iota.
The Steelers have impressive depth behind starters Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, which is a good thing, taking into consideration Heyward's advancing age and workload and Tuitt's injury tendencies. Isaiah Buggs and Chris Wormley offer youth and talented potential whenever they are entrusted to relieve the starters for a play or two.
However, I believe that Buggs may just have the ability and versatility to command even more playing time this season, specifically at the nose tackle position.
Going back to his collegiate days at Alabama, Buggs has always had the football IQ and determination to get the job done. Often overlooked because of some supremely talented teammates, Buggs knew his true value and sacrificed his spotlight for the betterment of the team. This is a valuable mindset for any defensive unit, and isn't very common in the NFL where most defenders have been the center of attention since they first put on a helmet.
Therefore, don't be surprised if Isaiah Buggs' versatility and underrated ability propels him into the mix and onto the field far more than expected during his second season in the NFL.
The eventually solution to the Steelers nose tackle question may already be on the roster, and it appears the Steelers decision makers are comfortable with that assessment.