Bringing back inside linebacker Avery Williamson would lock down the Steelers at the inside linebacker position. The inside linebacker room would feature Devin Bush, Vince Williams and Robert Spillane with real starting experience, and, with just one signing the defense would have a depth of defenders that can play most situations. Williamson provides a big body that is a menace in the run game, and a tackling machine. Based on his skill set, he would compete with Vince Williams in the buck linebacker spot and provide on early downs.
Williamson should also be viewed as someone to breakout with the Steelers in 2021. When he was acquired last November, Williamson was given a tough role being tasked with learning the Steelers’ complex defense while playing out of position in a coverage type role. Now, with the return of Devin Bush, we would see Avery used as a blitzer and run stuffer. Despite being used out of position last year, Williamson was still able to rack up 52 tackles, and a sack in just eight games (with only four starts). Those 52 tackles were still good enough for sixth on the entire team (his combined 111 tackles places him comfortably in first place).
Williamson’s addition would also provide clarity on how the Steelers will use Robert Spillane. I would expect Spillane to be used as a sub package linebacker as well as the primary back-up, playing significant snaps in relief of Bush, Williams, and Williamson. Monitoring snap counts may be a wise move for the Steelers, especially if they are comfortable with having any of those three players on the field at any given time. Anything the Steelers can do to make sure their guys are healthy come playoff time is key, especially with an expanded 17 game regualr season schedule.
As for the 2021 NFL Draft, I think it is fair to say the Steelers are out of the linebacker market, unless one of the big fish prospects are still available. The Steelers could still select Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah from Notre Dame, and use him in a hybrid, linebacker-safety-nickel type role. Or, and hear me out on this, they could still draft Zaven Collins and transition the defense from a base 3-4 to a base 4-3. The latter option would mean sandwiching Williamson between Bush and Collins and allowing the crazy athletic guys to play hybrid type positions while Williamson only has to worry about stuffing the run and minor coverage responsibilities.
But what do you think? Do you think the Steelers will still re-sign Avery Williamson? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.