Which Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie will have the biggest impact? This may sound like a dumb question to many Steeler fans who have been patiently/impatiently waiting for every possible update about Ryan Shazier’s performance during OTA’s and minicamp, but there may be a wild card here.
Even though we are still close to a month away from training camp, it’s looking like Shazier will accomplish something a Steeler defensive rookie hasn’t accomplished in more than a decade, start the season opener. This is, of course, barring injury or Vince Williams all of a sudden turns on his Pro Bowl setting. Shazier is already looking more promising than last years first round linebacker Jarvis Jones, and at one point he was supposed to be a top 5 pick. Shazier alone alters how the entire defense will work, something they would have loved last year. With Shazier’s speed, it will allow Timmons to pass the rusher while Shazier drops back into coverage. This will also allow Polamalu be Polamalu, when last year he was playing linebacker due to Vince Williams poor coverage skills. So by the looks of it, Shazier will have a pretty big impact in year one for the Steelers.
Now would I absolutely love to hear Tuitt’s name come out of training camp reports just absolutely tearing it up and take away the starting job from Cam Thomas with force, however, that just doesn’t happen with rookie defensive ends in the Steelers system. As a matter of fact, there hasn’t been much to report about Tuitt, which could be both a good and bad thing. By the looks of things, Tuitt will be a backup his rookie year but will rotate in with Cam Thomas. Don’t get me wrong, Tuitt can be a quality starter in the league and that’s exactly why he was drafted, to eventually start in that RDE spot. But for now, Tuitt will probably have a limited impact his rookie season while rotating in with Cam Thomas.
Here comes the wild card. No one really knows what to expect from Dri Archer. He could the next Dexter McCluster… or the next Chris Rainey. We all know that Archer will steal only limited carries from Le’Veon Bell, as he is the workhorse. Archer will also steal some snaps from the slot or fourth receiver, whoever that ends up being. It just all depends on how Todd Haley works him into the playbook. We all know he will be the kick returner and maybe the punt returner. A couple of touchdowns from special teams could be all the Steelers will be looking for in year one for Archer, but we all know better than that. We want to see a screen pass and watch Archer make his magic all the way to the end zone.
Martavis Bryant is already in Mike Tomlin’s doghouse, and that is somewhere you do not want to be in. It seems like Bryant is having effort problems during the offseason. This will lead to minimal playing time for the rookie, if any at all. Being Bryant was drafted in the first four rounds of the draft, his roster spot seems safe, but starting or even playing in the slot doesn’t look likely with Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore and even Justin Brown ahead of him. Bryant will probably be in sweatpants and a sweatshirt during game day if Justin Brown continues to have his spectacular offseason, but that doesn’t mean Bryant won’t someday be a big contributor for the Steelers, just probably not his rookie season.
So yes, the obvious answer is Ryan Shazier will have the biggest impact, but all rookie defenders in the Steelers system do have their struggles, and if Archer takes a couple to the house on returns and is used quite frequently in the offense, he could give Shazier a run for his money for the title of Steelers’ rookie of the year.
Let me know what you think about the article by leaving a comment! And Go USA!