This off-season has not gone in the typical direction we usually see as far as the Pittsburgh Steelers organization is concerned. Although there will be many familiar faces repping the black on gold again each week in 2021, there are also some new faces — guys who are trying to make their mark with the franchise rather quickly in hopes of making the final 53-man roster. Due to this new influx of talent, it may be safe to assume that there are many more position battles going on this off-season than fans originally had thought.
With that being said, last year’s starting outside linebacker opposite T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree has taken his talents to Nashville and joined the Tennessee Titans. This means there is a good chance a “new” face will find himself opposite Watt on Sundays rushing the passer as effectively as possible. Going into the off-season, it was safe to say that sophomore linebacker, Alex Highsmith would be taking over for Dupree after showing signs in his rookie season of possible potential stardom. There have been nothing but positive reports surrounding Highsmith since the start of the off-season, not only regarding his individual play, but also concerning the amount of work he put into his health in 2021. The reports are that he has added 10 to 20 pounds of additional body muscle and has been in the gym working consistently to get better. Now we just need the results to be present on the field.
Although the potential of Highsmith seems to be through the roof, there is a recent report circulating that the Steelers are bringing in former Pro Bowl outside linebacker, Melvin Ingram into Pittsburgh for an official visit.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 19, 2021
Ingram is a solid outside backer and has proven to be one of the top at the position when healthy throughout his career. Health has been the only concern; a player can only benefit the team when on the field and that has been Ingram’s downfall as of late. Since 2015, Ingram is solely accountable for 43 sacks in only 5 full healthy seasons. In doing so, he was selected to 3 Pro Bowls, once in 2017 with 10.5 sacks, in 2018 with 7 sacks and as recently as 2019 with 7 solo sacks.
I don’t want to put the thought in anyone’s head even insinuating that Highsmith doesn’t have what it takes to be a consistent starting outside linebacker at the NFL level because I have more than enough confidence that he does. If this move is to be made however, in my opinion it’s made to not only benefit the team, but also Highsmith himself. Ingram is a talent, and quite honestly he is someone I have wanted to see represent this organization for a good amount of time. His style of play can be categorized as a “go-getter” meaning he just likes to get after the quarterback, and is effective in doing so. If signed, there is a really good chance that Ingram sees the field a good amount in 2021. We need depth at that position and to be able to say Ingram is your BACKUP outside backer (possibly starter), that’s a good problem to have.
This is of course all hypothetical. In all honesty, we have seen the Steelers bring in players, even this off-season, just to watch them leave Pittsburgh without a deal. I don’t want to make this something that it’s not, but then again it is our job to speculate. In my opinion, there is no re-railing Highsmith from becoming this team’s starting outside linebacker this season. Bringing Ingram in would allow for a healthy competition, ultimately bringing the absolute best out of Highsmith in hopes to gauge his true potential early on in his career. The Steelers could use Ingram’s contributions for the season, but I do not think he is the team’s long term solution. If anything, he would be brought in to help develop Highsmith as he transitions to a starter while also contributing himself. A real win-win for the Steelers.
Would yinz like to see Ingram in black and gold? Comment below! We will be sure to keep yinz posted on whether or not Ingram leaves Pittsburgh with a deal or not today. Check back later for details!