For the first time in what seems like a while, the Pittsburgh Steelers really appear to have a deep team this offseason while looking at the 90-man roster. They may not be the deepest team in the league, nor are they invulnerable and insulated at every individual position. But looking down the list of players on the team’s roster, it’s easy to see that there may be some hard cuts to be made in August this year.
This is somewhat interesting, considering that they only brought in one free agent in running back DeAngelo Williams, but they are returning 47 players from their 53-man roster last season for a team that won 11 games and a division title.
Not every position is bursting at the seams with talent, of course. The offensive tackle position certainly sticks out in my mind as one that could stand to be insulated further with some type of known commodity behind the team’s two starters.
The Steelers appear to be quite pleased with their two nose tackles, as well, but they don’t really have anybody else to play behind them, even if the nose tackle position may see a historical low in snap counts for the team this year as they rely more on sub-packages.
But if you take a look at many positions on the roster—perhaps most positions—you will find potential roster battles that will force the coaching staff to make difficult decisions at the end of this evaluation process, and that is really all you can ask for from your offseason roster.
A quick glance at the wide receiver position supports this view. While the top four spots are seemingly cemented in place, you have Darrius Heyward-Bey a likely spot holder due to his leadership and special teams ability.
Beyond that, you have a handful of interesting young players that have been receiving attention, such as C.J. Goodwin and Eli Rogers, among others, not to mention the wide receiver/quarterback hybrid players who could potentially be practice squad candidates.
The linebacker room, as we have previously discussed, is chock full of interesting players on both the outside and the inside spots, such that the possibility of carrying 10 linebackers this year doesn’t seem so far-fetched. They do, after all, have 14 already on the roster.
Following a couple of departures in the secondary, the Steelers made sure to restock with three draft picks at cornerback and safety. Add in prior unknowns in B.W. Webb and Kevin Fogg, and the slew of young safeties in camp, and you have another bottleneck situation that will likely result in some difficult decisions at the end of the line.
The Steelers came into this offseason not having a ton of roster spots to fill from last season’s unit as it is, but they appear to have done a satisfactory job of stocking their 90-man offseason roster with intriguing, yet cheap competition.
Now, inevitably, some of these players that have been praised will ultimately fall below expectations while others rise, but overall, I do see a team whose talent level is on the rise from the top of the roster to the bottom.