The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Which position on the 90-man roster is still in the most need of depth heading into the draft?
I wanted to pose a bit of a different question today compared to that which we might normally discuss when talking about the draft. We know what the team’s needs and wants are, but which positions on the roster simply put need to be filled out more?
The three positions that most immediately jump out to me are running back, tight end, and defensive line, specifically defensive end. The team lost at least one player from each of these positions last season who was at some point a meaningful or semi-meaningful contributor last year, or would have been the next man up if there was an injury.
Specifically, the Steelers did not re-sign running back Stevan Ridley or defensive lineman L.T. Walton, and tight end Jesse James signed a more lucrative contract in free agency than he would have ever gotten from Pittsburgh for starter money.
The team hasn’t done much to address any of these specific holes yet. They technically still have three running backs from the roster last year, as Trey Edmunds was promoted for the final month, but I don’t think they’re planning on him going into the season as their number three.
As for Walton, he was inactive for most of the year, but they only have five linemen with experience. Lavon Hooks from the practice squad and Casey Sayles, who was in camp last year and was re-signed after playing in the AAF, look to be the closest competitors for the sixth defensive line spot at the moment.
James’ absence is the biggest of the group by far because he contributed quite a bit, playing around 500 snaps. He was the number two tight end, and they don’t have another tight end who can without question serve in that role. But they at least have Bucky Hodges returning from the practice squad, with respect to the depth of the position.