2018 Pittsburgh Steelers Depth Chart
|Quarterback||Ben Roethlisberger||Joshua Dobbs||Mason Rudolph|
|Running Back||James Conner||Stevan Ridley||Jaylen Samuels|
|Left Wide Receiver||Antonio Brown||Justin Hunter||Ryan Switzer|
|Right Wide Receiver||JuJu Smith-Schuster||James Washington||Darrius Heyward-Bey|
|Tight End||Vance McDonald||Jesse James||Xaiver Grimble|
|Full Back||Roosevelt Nix|
|Left Tackle||Alejandro Villanueva||Chukwuma Okorafor|
|Left Guard||Ramon Foster||BJ Finney|
|Center||Maurkice Pouncy||BJ Finney|
|Right Guard||David DeCastro||Mett Feiler|
|Right Tackle||Marcus Gilbert||Zach Banner|
When you have the NFL’s best wide receiver and best running back on the same squad, it is difficult to adjust or improve upon areas of weakness. Antonio Brown blew away the competition at the wideout position, positing MVP-caliber numbers in 2017. The same case could be stated for Le’Veon Bell, who continues to show that a back can be both patient and effective in the passing game. The biggest controversy surrounding the team heading into camp was the status of Le’Veon Bell. Contract discussions have been on-going for the past few seasons, with the organization and Bell never reaching the full, desired terms. Bell wants a long-term deal that would make him the highest paid rusher in sport, while the team isn’t ready to commit that many years of cap space due to the longevity of today’s running backs. A deal was never conceived, and Bell will enter his second season under the franchise tag. This is a development to keep an eye on should the team find themselves slumping or caught in losing stretches at any point in 2018. Bell might just ride the pine until he receives his due fortune.
Putting the Bell situation aside, the Steelers went silent this off-season. A few offensive departures spelled the news on that side of the football, but these were mere roster cuts and cap clearances. Players like Sammie Coates and Martavis Bryant found new homes, but the irrelevancy that Coates brought to a roster merely represented a low cap hit and a roster filling. While Bryant was a little more important to the team, internal controversy left the team better off without him. To be honest, Antonio Brown has proven time and time again that he is the only target Big Ben needs to succeed. You have a catching back flanking your outside position, a wide receiver that is a threat on any side of the field, and sizeable tight-ends that are good within pass-blocking schemes; what more do you need? The team will look to place their younger guys, like JuJu Smith-Schuster, within areas of comfort. This means more opportune looks for players that were buried on the roster in past seasons. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Justin Hunter could experience the career revival that both have been desperately seeking as they journey from organization to organization.
Sealing up the small holes within the offense afforded the team a greater look within the defense. Since Ryan Shazier went down with a potential career-ending injury a few seasons ago, the team has struggled to find that leader and hard-nosed talent to center the defense around. They may have found this talent within the draft. Terrell Edmunds comes as a highly touted safety and inside linebacker product, who will immediately look to fill this role on the professional squad. He provides that push recent signing, Jon Bostic needs to regain his confidence at the middle linebacker position. Edmunds receives instant-starter status and keeps the center of the defense as a solid core. The signing of Morgan Burnett to the secondary also reduces the pressures the defense will have to deal with upfront. Burnett is a gamer and he works with a mindset that keeps every play in front of him. He can read defenses and provide real-time pointers to opposing corners and the defenders in front of him. His presence alone lifts a load off the shoulders of every player on the defense, an impact that can only be earned over time.
The team also started to stash for their future with the draft and keeping some select talents on the roster. Mason Rudolph now becomes the talent for Big Ben to mentor. Pittsburgh is hoping to sit Rudolph behind Ben for a few seasons, enticing the possibility of starting a Favre-Rodgers connection. Whatever the learning curve may be, the Steelers got a great deal on Rudolph in the 3rd round of the draft. The wide receiver development pool is also encouraging. James Washington has really impressed the coaching staff this off-season, easily earning himself a roster spot for opening weekend. He has size, hands, and he’s not afraid to put his body on the line in terms of gaining successful completions. He is a talent that rarely surfaces late in drafts, so it will be important that the team continues to foster his growth.