We’re rolling right along here at Steelers Depot as we close in on the start of Training Camp 2017. Back for the third installment of “Ranking the Starters” series for the site, I’ll take a look at my rankings of No. 18-16 for the Pittsburgh Steelers heading into the 2017 season.
Just a quick reminder: I put this list together based on the Steelers’ 3-4 base defense and a 3-wide set on offense, so you won’t see fullback Roosevelt Nix appear on this list.
List to date:
No. 24 – Jordan Berry
No. 23 – Ross Cockrell
No. 22 – Eli Rogers
No. 21 – Jesse James
No. 20 – Artie Burns
No. 19 – Vince Williams
No. 18 — Bud Dupree, OLB
This isn’t a knock on Bud at all, but the reality of his career so far is that he’s play just 23 games and has just 8.5 career sacks.
While I don’t agree with Pro Football Focus ranking him the Steelers’ worst starter at all, I do think he’s closer to the bottom of the list than most fans think.
The 2017 season is a big, big year for the 2015 first-round pick, and I can absolutely see 10-12 sacks this season. He just has to stay healthy and really put his off-season pass rushing work with Chuck Smith together on the field.
I see no reason why he can’t.
If the end of the 2016 season was an indication, Dupree is on track to become a very good edge rusher. Here’s hoping he puts it all together this fall for the black and gold.
No. 17 — Chris Boswell, K
Last season, Boswell was a huge part of the attack for the Steelers, often coming up with big performances in the kicking game to keep Pittsburgh afloat during their awful red zone woes.
He’s not one of the top 5 kickers in football, but he’s not far out of that conversation either.
Although he missed more kicks last season than he did in his first year with the Steelers, more often than not Boswell came up clutch for the offense. That’s refreshing to have after struggling two years ago to find an answer to Shaun Suisham’s injury in the preseason.
Expect the Boz to have another strong year for the black and gold.
No. 16 — Ramon Foster, G
The veteran guard was exceptional last season for the Steelers in pass protection and in the run game, showing he’s just as capable of doing damage while pulling across the field as David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey had in the past.
He did struggle with injuries last season, but when on the field, Foster was a key component to a high-powered attack for Pittsburgh.
He’s nearing the end of his time in Pittsburgh, but it’s hard to argue that 73 has ever been better for this franchise than he currently is.
That being said, he doesn’t move up the list this season compared to last season. Despite being as good as he was, it’s hard to slide a guard up the rankings when the offense is as loaded as it is ahead of him, and young guys on defense rapidly improving.
No. 18 – Shaun Suisham
No. 17 – Sammie Coates
No. 16 – Ramon Foster