As with every year, teams usually improve their roster through free agency. The Pittsburgh Steelers can definitely improve their roster with the draft coming up, but other than incoming rookies, they have a pretty good idea of who will be entering training camp. Here’s a grade for each positional unit of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers needed to address their quarterback situation last year, and they did exactly that. They brought in free agenct Bruce Gradkowski and drafted rookie Landry Jones. The Steelers quarterback unit is in a perfect situation. They have their franchise quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger. They have a dependable backup in Bruce Gradkowski. And lastly they have a young gun that can sit back and learn from one of the best in the game.
The running back spot was looking pretty bleak with only Le’Veon Bell on the roster with a carry in an NFL game. Now that they have signed Legarrette Blount, things are looking better. They have the workhorse back in Bell, the third down and goal line back in Blount, and the only thing their missing is a change of pace back who can break the bank on any touch he gets. That’s where the draft comes in. They also have a pretty good fullback in Will Johnson. This unit would get an A+ if it already had a change of pace back.
Same with the running back position, the Steelers desperately needed some wide receivers a couple weeks ago when Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery left. The only wideouts were Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Derek Moye and Justin Brown. Antonio Brown of course isn’t one to worry about, but the other 3 have little to no experience on Sunday. The Steelers then brought in Lance Moore and Darius Heyward-Bey, but they look no better than third and fourth receivers. Look for the draft for the Steelers to once again address the wide receiver position. As of now, with the exception of Antonio Brown, unproven young guys and slot receivers.
Heath Miller’s contract was extended earlier this offseason, but he will not last forever. The Steelers either need to find his replacement this year or next year, and there are already plenty of needs for the Steelers to address early in the upcoming draft. Miller is obviously a great and highly underrated number one tight end, but behind him aren’t many pass catchers. Matt Spaeth has proven to be nothing but a blocker on two tight end sets. David Paulson, at one time I highly rooted for the kid, fell flat on his face when given playing time. That’s not to say he won’t come through, but his first couple seasons have proven otherwise. A perfect scenario for the tight end position would be a young guy that showed lots of promise for the Steelers and could spill Miller from time to time and eventually replace him, but unfortunately there is no one. Paulson was once that guy, but hasn’t improved enough. The tight end is set, but not much talent behind Miller.
I haven’t felt this good about the Steelers offensive line in a long time. With the players brought back, the talent among the starters, and now a hall of fame coach as the offensive line coach, things can only go up for this line. Kelvin Beachum isn’t one to let the opportunity he has to solidify his spot as quality starting left tackle in the league go, especially with the odds against him. David DeCastro showed how he can completely dominate at times last season and has the chance if he continues to improve to be an All Pro by next season. Maurkice Pouncey, already one of the best centers in the league, is coming off a major injury but will get to work with DeCastro and Mike Munchak when he does return, something no one should ever complain about. Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams even showed promise as quality right tackles in the league towards the end of the season last year. The two will more than likely battle it out for the starting right tackle spot. Behind the starters is valuable depth. Cody Wallace and Guy Whimper were both brought back. Wallace will be the swing c/g while Whimper will be the swing g/t. Wallace really proved to be a good backup last year while Whimper didn’t play too shabby himself. Whoever doesn’t win the tackle spot between the Adams and Gilbert will be the swing tackle. The starters and depth are looking very good for the Steelers, and for once the offensive line isn’t a worry going into the draft or camp.
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