According to a recent analysis done by Pro Football Focus for ESPN.com, the Pittsburgh Steelers are six above-average players away from being serious contenders for the Super Bowl next season.
So what makes a team a contender next year, according to PFF? After doing a study of all 28 teams in the league that failed to make it to the conference championship games this season, they determined that 40 percent of the players on a team’s roster who took part in at least 250 snaps (varies by team) have to be rated by them as being good or elite.
As far as how their study of the Steelers went, PFF determined that of the 35 qualifying players that were on the team’s 53 man roster last season, only eight were rated by them as being good or elite.
The Steelers three elite players listed by PFF aren’t hard to figure out as they are quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell. The five players listed as being above average by PFF are tackle Kelvin Beachum, defensive end Cameron Heyward, linebacker Lawrence Timmons, center Maurkice Pouncey and linebacker James Harrison.
Of the eight players listed above, only Harrison is in jeopardy of not returning in 2015, so going by PFF’s criteria, the Steelers would in essence be seven players short of being able to compete for a championship next season if the veteran linebacker isn’t back next season.
If you’re an optimist, you cant help but think that wide receiver Martavis Bryant has a good shot at being at least an above-average player next season. In addition to him, guard David DeCastro also figures to have a good shot at jumping into the above-average category as well. Should both achieve that designation next season, then the Steelers would essentially need five more above-average players to emerge in 2015 in order to compete for a championship.
While PFF’s study certainly is entertaining and well thought out, every Steelers fan knows that the team really needs help next season on defense if they expect to make a run at a seventh Lombardi Trophy as their offsense should be fine as long as all of the key players on that unit stay healthy.
Do they really need five more above-average players on defense, however? While that sounds about right, more than anything they’ll need both of their outside linebackers to step up in 2015 in addition to several more members of their secondary.
You can look at PFF’s study of all 28 teams right here and it’s interesting to see the teams that they believe are closer to competing for a championship in 2015 than the Steelers are as three of them failed to even go .500 in 2014.
Well, this certainly should make for a good pre draft discussion.