The last time that we took a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in review, it was weeks before the 2020 NFL Draft took place. It would be safe to say that quite a bit has changed since then, and the changes apply to almost every position on the roster, some major changes, some minor.
We are closing in on the opening of the Steelers’ several weeks of training camp, this time not at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, so it would be a good time to pause and take stock of where the team stands at each position as we head into the most critical process of the offseason.
Total Positional Figure: 5
Ben Roethlisberger: Well, it kind of all comes down to the franchise guy, doesn’t it? That’s how it always is, and in this case, it’s specifically about whether or not Roethlisberger’s elbow will hold up throughout the season. Reports about his health and delivery have been great, but we haven’t seen him in a true football setting yet.
Mason Rudolph: Entering his third year, Rudolph needs to show some major progress this season. He did make a sizable leap from his first to his second, but he was clearly in over his head as far as playing time went in 2019. Time for him to show that he has grown from those experiences.
Devlin Hodges: Hodges knew he was always playing with house money, and that’s how he approached his playing time last year. He always knew he had the talent to play in the NFL, but that the odds were still long. He had some bright spots, but crashed and burned in the end. Remember, though: he was just a rookie.
Paxton Lynch: A former first-round bust, Lynch is on his third team with Pittsburgh. He was signed after the season already started, so this was his first offseason with the Steelers…and needless to say it wasn’t much thanks to the pandemic.
J.T. Barrett: A formerly exciting quarterback with Ohio State, Barrett was added to the practice squad at the end of last season after Rudolph’s injury. He still believes in his abilities, and now with an offseason, is hoping to have a chance to prove it to the doubters.
Players Added: N/A
Players Lost: N/A
Notes and Camp Outlook:
How often is it the case that a team carries five quarterbacks into training camp, with all of them having been with the team at the end of the previous season? I’m guessing not very often. But you take two from injured reserve and one from the practice squad, plus the two that finished on the 53, and there you have it.
The Steelers resisted cries from many corners to sign a veteran backup, repeatedly expressing a level of comfort in their depth chart. Would it be nice to see growth from the young guys? Sure. But it’s still all about Roethlisberger’s elbow.
Rudolph appears likely to retain his backup job—though it is a role he lost last season—but the real roster battle is behind him, between Hodges and Lynch. Hodges started six games last year, but that didn’t necessarily play into his favor with the amount of bad tape he produced.