Ranking the 5 strongest Steelers position groups going into Week 1
The initial 53-man roster is out in the open, the NFL season is just one week away, and excitement is reaching its climax. After months of offseason news, USFL and XFL football, offseason programs, and preseason competition, the real football is finally about to take place.
With this in mind, it is a great time to press the reset button before the season begins and evaluate the roster by position, looking at which positions the Steelers are strongest at. We will begin at the position I believe to be the strongest on the Steelers roster: EDGE.
1. EDGE Rusher
Expectations need to be held in check when it comes to Nick Herbig, but the maturity he displayed in the preseason was nothing short of impressive. Adding more weight would take his upside through the roof, as his repertoire of moves is already multifaceted. He just needs a little more play strength to succeed against veteran NFL linemen. The experienced Markus Golden rounds out an impressive group of pass rushers, led by T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.
2. Wide Receiver
The Steelers invest serious draft capital into the wide receiver position, but more times than not, it pays off. I believe we see a breakout from George Pickens that puts him in the conversation of being a top-ten wide receiver in the NFL, and a big reason why is because of the serious talent surrounding him to minimize the attention he receives from defenses. Savvy veterans Diontae Johnson and Allen Robinson II will provide leadership and smarts to the room, while second-year speedster Calvin Austin III looks to become a legitimate deep threat for this offense.
3. Defensive Line
Cameron Heyward is getting older, but he has not shown much regression at all. As long as the old man keeps going, this unit is going to be formidable. We are also expected to see a much healthier version of Larry Ogunjobi this season, who has quite the history of nagging injuries. The wild card is Keeanu Benton, but if he can at least provide stability against the run as a rookie, this is still a top-ten defensive line in the NFL.
Kenny Pickett may not have put up the gaudiest of numbers last season, but in the second half of the season, we saw much growth in his development, and it is reasonable to expect a second-year leap. On top of that, the Steelers have one of the deepest quarterback rooms in the NFL, with fringe-starter level backup Mitch Trubisky and veteran third-stringer Mason Rudolph. If Pickett happens to go down for a week or two during the season, Trubisky and Rudolph are both more than capable of keeping this team afloat.
5. Offensive Line
The reason the offensive line is not higher is because it is going to take time for this new-look unit to gel. Do not be surprised if we see a rocky start to the season from the offensive line, but by season’s end, I fully expect this line to be playing to the level of a top-ten to twelve unit in the NFL, at bare minimum. All reports indicate that Isaac Seumalo and James Daniels look fantastic, and Dan Moore, Jr. had a strong preseason in his own right. If he can carry that into the season, the Steelers finally have themselves a formidable line again.
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