Front Page Submission - Sophomore Jump

As the calendar days get crossed off, we inch ever closer to some of the most exciting days of the summer. They are days of hope and optimism and possibility. I'm talking about training camp. The final steps of preparation as the team barrels headlong toward a new season.

Training camp this year arrives with more questions than has been the case in the last 18 years. Some of those questions revolve around the changing of the guard at quarterback, and some revolve around other shifts in personnel and scheme. Many of the questions that arise are questions that are asked every year.

One of those questions was put forth by Pittsblitz56:

In terms of the Pittsburgh Steelers second year players, which one guy could have that "Sophomore Jump", what player gives the greatest value to the teams 2022 success?

While it would be easy to point to early flashes by Najee Harris or Pat Freiermuth and conclude that even marginal improvements on their part would be of greatest value, I would generally disagree. A jump on their part would be simply to meet the expectations they have forged for themselves with their early successes.

Following last season's atrocious offensive line play, one might be inclined to point to Kendrick Green or Dan Moore Jr as having the greatest value toward team success with a sophomore jump. That is a fine argument, but with the extra resources invested by the Steelers in the form of Mason Cole and James Daniels, the offensive line is poised for success even with only marginal 2nd year gains by Green and Moore.

In terms of value toward team success from a sophomore jump, the best candidate is Isaiahh Loudermilk. The offensive side of the ball is in an expected state of transition as the Steelers forge on into life without Big Ben. That was not the only significant retirement, as Stephon Tuitt's retirement has pushed the defense into a state of transition to a smaller extent by opening a hole in the defensive line. While that hole is likely to be filled by a rotation of players, including Chris Wormley and DeMarvin Leal, a sophomore leap on the part of Loudermilk could lead to a stabilization of the defensive line that lays a young foundation for the Steelers for 2022 and beyond.

Having only played 288 snaps on the year, and only posting modest stats in the form of 23 tackles and 1 sack, Loudermilk did show some flashes of Cam Heyward style ability, although in a very raw form. This was most evident when we consider the 3 passes defended on Loudermilk's part, batting them down with the same authority and timing that we see from Cam Heyward every year.

So, what's your take? Does a sophomore jump by Isaiahh Loudermilk present the greatest value to team success for the Steelers in 2022?

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