All 90 is a Pittsburgh Steelers Now series profiling each of the 90 members of the Steelers 2021 offseason roster.
96 • Isaiah Buggs, third-year defensive lineman
6-foot-3, 295 pounds
Acquired: Drafted by the Steelers with the No. 192 overall pick in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Last season: With Tyson Alualu replacing Javon Hargrave in the starting lineup and Chris Wormley dealing with injury, Buggs became the team’s top backup option on the defensive line early in the season, but ceded playing time as the year went on.
Buggs played in seven of the first eight games, and made his first career start in Week 8 at Dallas, recording five tackles and a quarterback hit in his most productive game of the season.
But he played in just three more games after that and was frequently inactive, while players like Carlos Davis and Henry Mondeaux seemed to jump him in the rotation.
Career: Played in nine games as a rookie in 2019.
College: Spent final two collegiate seasons at Alabama, where he played for current Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar.
Buggs had 134 tackles and 7.5 sacks in two seasons with the Crimson Tide. In 2017, he made 13 starts on the way to winning the College Football Playoff Nation Championship Game over Georgia. Named All-SEC after leading Alabama in sacks with 9.5 as a senior.
He spent first two collegiate seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Camp outlook: The Steelers return all four depth defensive line options from 2020, along with the addition of fifth-round pick Isaiahh Loudermilk.
Buggs brings versatility in his ability to play all three positions the Steelers frequently use on the defensive line: end, nose tackle, and tackle. Wormley also shares that versatility, while Davis is best inside and Mondeaux and Loudermilk seem best-suited outside.
It was Mondeaux’s excellence on special teams that likely moved him ahead of Buggs, as he played 182 snaps on teams in 2020, compared to 13 for Buggs. Buggs could be looking at another season of battling to get a gameday helmet, even if he’s one of the top backup options, because of special teams.
Future: Buggs is set to make $1.007 million in the final season of his rookie contract in 2022, after which, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.
The rest of the 90: