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.
Position: Outside Linebacker
Total Positional Figure: 6
T.J. Watt: We’re running out of superlatives for Watt this offseason. He is one of the elite young edge defenders in the NFL and is also a very good all-around player in anything you ask him to do. As long as he’s healthy, he’s going to make a lot of money.
Bud Dupree: Coming off something of a breakout season in 2019, Dupree is scheduled to play under the franchise tag. There’s only about a week before the extension deadline, so it’s looking like he will play out the tag. Can he put up a repeat performance?
Olasunkanmi Adeniyi: Now entering his third season and with Anthony Chickillo gone, it’s time for Adeniyi to step up and put in some quality snaps as the number three edge defender. August injuries in his first two seasons haven’t done him any favors.
Tuzar Skipper: A rookie undrafted free agent last year, Skipper showed up big in the preseason, but slipped off the roster prior to the opener. He was lost on waivers, but they eventually got him back at the end of the season. The lack of an offseason will have surely limited his growth, but this is a big opportunity for him.
Alex Highsmith: Drafted in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Highsmith is the highest draft pick the team has used outside of the first round since Jason Worilds in the second round in 2010. He will struggle to contribute immediately on defense because of the lack of an offseason, however.
James Lockhart: An undrafted rookie out of Baylor, Lockhart has some intriguing qualities as a pass rusher, and, well, Adeniyi and Skipper were both undrafted free agents in the past two seasons, so you never know.
Players Lost: N/A
Notes and Camp Outlook:
The good news is the Steelers have their two established starters at outside linebacker in Watt and Dupree. The bad news is that everybody behind them is total guesswork. Adeniyi has been in the system for two years, but without a lot of game time. Skipper had the offseason, but he missed most of the regular season while he was with the Giants. Then there’s Highsmith, with whom the coaching staff will have their hands full trying to get him up to speed.