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Elandon Roberts was a one man wrecking crew, but he needs help

I feel safe in saying that all of Steelers Nation is especially thankful for Elandon Roberts. The toughness, relentless effort, production and character of Roberts is exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers want in a player. “E-Rob” gave the Steelers his all and more this past season. To begin the season the Pittsburgh Steelers had a brand new inside linebacker room consisting of: Cole Holcomb, Kwon Alexander, Elandon Roberts and Mark Robinson. Robinson was the only ILB that was on the roster the previous season. Holcomb and Alexander were expected to be the starting “every down” type inside linebacker while Roberts was more of the run-stopping thumper.

Week 9 against the Tennessee Titans, while trying to make a routine play, Cole Holcomb was incidentally taken out by friendly fire with a season-ending knee injury. The following week against the Green Bay Packers, Kwon Alexander went down with a season-ending Achilles tendon rupture. In back-to-back weeks, the Steelers lost their two starting and most versatile inside linebackers for the season.

The room was left with Elandon Roberts and Mark Robinson, whom are the same style of player. Roberts was mainly asked to be the run support, but now would be asked to be an every down and every situation player, which is not his strength. Without hesitation, Roberts stepped into the role and balled out! Roberts played better than any of us envisioned at the beginning of the season, and throughout the tail end of the season, Roberts was on the field with players that were either on practice squads or recently retired. Roberts’ production did not drop off but it increased throughout the adversity he faced, including his own injuries that would sideline most players.

For the 2024 season Roberts, Holcomb and Robinson are expected to be on the roster. Robinson is a project that shows flashes, but is very limited in his abilities. Holcomb is coming off the aforementioned injury that may not have him ready at the beginning of the season.

So, who will line up with Elandon Roberts?

Many names will be thrown around to fill a void this defense has in the middle, a few of my favorite free agents are:

  • Willie Gay Jr.
  • Devin White
  • Patrick Queen

All of these names are young, proven, impact players. My top choice would be Willie Gay Jr. He is an elite athlete with championship DNA. Gay has been with the Kansas City Chiefs since 2020 who has made him a 2x Super Bowl Champion. That experience of playing in big games, including the biggest game of them all, cannot be undervalued. Gay Jr. knows what it takes to win a championship and what a championship team looks like.

If the Steelers are to look at the NFL Draft for an inside linebacker, the names I like are:

  • Cedrick Gray – North Carolina
  • Edgerrin Cooper – Texas A&M
  • Payton Wilson – NC State (injury history is a concern)
  • Junior Colson – Michigan
  • Ty’ Ron Hopper – Missouri
  • Jeremiah Trotter Jr – Clemson

To be an impact ILB in today’s NFL you need to be physical, athletic and be able to play sideline-to-sideline. The ability to limit the middle of the field can be a game changer for a defense and that’s what the Steelers have been missing from the ILB position. All of these ILBs could add value to the Pittsburgh Steelers and depending how the draft board falls, we could see in Black and Gold.

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