With minicamp in the rearview mirror and training camp on the horizon, the Pittsburgh Steelers should already have all of the main components of their offseason roster in place, with all draft picks signed and no more free agents projected to be added until further evaluation.
It’s possible that a need should arise for further additions, either due to poor performance or injuries, once we reach training camp.
But for the time being, we should take a look at the depth chart that the front office has put together since the end of the 2013 season and see how well it stacks up in terms of quality and depth.
Due to the cumbersome lengths that offseason rosters can reach, we will be projecting a number or range of roster spots per position and focusing on that number of players per position, with other potential notables receiving mention below.
Position: Outside Linebacker
Projected Roster Spots: 4-5
Jason Worilds: The fifth-year veteran Worilds is coming off a breakout season of sorts, during which he led the team with eight sacks. Most of his production came during the second half of the season, when he seemed to put all his tools together in one kit.
If he has actually become the player that he showed himself to be in the stretch run of the 2013 season, then he would be a wise future investment, but the front office may need to see another year of production as evidence.
Jarvis Jones: Uncharacteristic of the Steelers defense, Jones started eight games as a rookie, though many of them came late in the year following LaMarr Woodley’s injuries. He has no safety net in year two and must prove to be a complete linebacker in order for the Steelers to flourish.
Arthur Moats: Having lost both of their starters at outside linebacker over the last two seasons, the Steelers needed to upgrade their depth at the position, and signed Moats to provide some veteran experience behind their top two edge rushers. For the time being, it seems as though he will remain outside, given the disparity in depth between the inside and outside linebacker positions.
Chris Carter: Carter’s position on the roster is admittedly precarious this offseason. Although he has been receiving generally positive remarks from both press and coaches through OTAs and minicamp, the fact remains that he has shown very little in his first three seasons. Still, he likely remains the favorite as the fourth outside linebacker.
Others: At the moment, there is too little clarity behind the top four outside linebackers to list a true fifth option. In reality, whoever the ninth linebacker ends up being will likely be one with inside-outside versatility, in addition to special teams prowess, such as Terence Garvin or Jordan Zumwalt.
That is unless the Steelers are sufficiently content with the ability of Moats to do both. In that case, perhaps a Vic So’oto or Howard Jones could vie for the fifth outside linebacker spot if they don’t manage to surpass Carter. I suppose the possible addition of James Harrison should be noted for completion’s sake, even if it seems unlikely.