The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: What is the strongest position group on the roster?
We are wrapping up our position-by-position review of the Steelers’ roster later on today with the team’s specialists, so I figured now would be a fitting time to ask the question: what position on the Steelers’ roster is the strongest group from the top end down, taking into consideration elite talent at the top and quality depth on the back end?
My mind immediately turns toward the wide receiver position, but I fully acknowledge that its candidacy is rife with qualifiers that require many things to go right. Martavis Bryant’s application for reinstatement is currently in limbo, and we are left wondering if the first five games of Sammie Coates’s sophomore season is a mirage. If Bryant and Coates are capable of playing the way they have at their best, then this is a truly phenomenal group without even considering the quality depth behind them.
Inside linebacker is another thought, even with Lawrence Timmons on the decline, but he is only a couple years removed from a Pro Bowl season, and Ryan Shazier is just beginning to accumulate his Pro Bowls. Vince Williams could be starter-quality on his own, and there are decent players behind them.
Running back is another thought. So is safety. But the more I think about it, the more the answer becomes obvious. It has to be the offensive line.
The Steelers had arguably the best starting five offensive linemen in the league by the end of the season last year, and they not only accomplished that impressive feat, they also got legitimately high-quality starts out of not one but two reserves making the first starts of their careers.
If that were not enough, they even accomplished this while losing two of their top potential reserves due to injury in Ryan Harris, who was supposed to be the third tackle, and Jerald Hawkins, who was a promising rookie. Wide receiver if it is fully stocked can give it a run for its money, but I think the smart pick here is the offensive line. And if you want to divide it further, I think you can make a strong case for either the tackle position or the interior, especially with Chris Hubbard’s versatility.