Vikings to Audition Former Steelers Defender

Vikings to Audition Former Steelers Defender
Nov 8, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings are somewhat deep in the interior of the defensive line, but they’re auditioning a depth defender from the Pittsburgh Steelers nevertheless.

His name is Isaiah Buggs, and he spent three years in Pittsburgh with Mike Tomlin. Buggs will try out for the Vikings summer roster at rookie minicamp.

Inside Ed Donatell’s new 3-4 defense, the nose tackle job presumably belongs to Dalvin Tomlinson, a free agent signed by Minnesota in 2021. Due to injury maladies, the Vikings cut ties with Michael Pierce this spring, and he later rejoined his former team, the Baltimore Ravens.

Buggs plays nose tackle, too, and could reasonably compete with current reservist nose tackles Tyarise Stevenson and T.Y. McGill if signed by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

Sep 12, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

Drafted in the 6th Round of the 2019 NFL Draft from Alabama, Buggs played in 29 games for the Steelers, starting in seven of those contests, most of which occurred in 2021. Last year, he played on 34% of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps, so he’s not wholly inexperienced.

He’s never recorded a sack and instead fills the run-stuffing role generally showcased by a run-of-the-mill nose tackle. Of course, he’s large, standing 6’3″ and weighing 295 pounds.

Keeping in mind Buggs only recently earned starting snaps with the Steelers, he’s his brief Pro Football Focus resume:

  • 2019 = 56.6
  • 2020 = 46.5
  • 2021 = 59.1
Dec 8, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Isaiah Buggs. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Buggs won a National Championship with the Crimson Tide in 2017. He was teammates with Rashaan Evans (ATL), Minkah Fitzpatrick (PIT), Josh Jacobs (LV), Daron Payne (WAS), and Calvin Ridley (ATL).

Vikings TE1 Irv Smith Jr. was also Buggs’ teammate at Alabama.

During the 2019 draft, Buggs was the player chosen directly before Vikings offensive lineman Oli Udoh.

Buggs, 25, was signed to the Las Vegas Raiders practice squad in January, but that was evidently short-lived.

Rookie minicamp for the Vikings begins on Monday.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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