Though many in the national media have soured on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 chances, at least one outlet — or at least one writer — likes the makeup of their roster. CBS ranked the NFL’s rosters, 1-32, and author Jordan Dajani named the Steelers of having the ninth-best roster in football.
Here’s what he wrote about the Steelers’ offense.
“Even after the Steelers started last year 11-0, their late season flameout and questions about Ben Roethlisberger moving forward have many bearish on them in 2021. I agree that they could take a step backwards, but this roster on paper still has the talent to contend. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson are great weapons, Najee Harris was the top running back in this incoming class and even Pat Freiermuth could surprise some people in his first season. The offensive line is a bit worrisome, but Trai Turner is a good signing.”
A rosy outlook for all the bombs thrown the Steelers’ way over the past four months. Much of the discussion has been around an offensive line that’s gotten a bigger facelift than your favorite B-list celebrity, but Dajani focuses on the talent at the skill positions. The team re-signed JuJu Smith-Schuster, should expect Chase Claypool to see a sophomore leap, and Diontae Johnson’s 2020 season was better than a lot of people think. They also drafted Najee Harris as one part of upgrading the team’s offensive line.
But the elephant in the room is the front five. It arguably carries more question marks than any other group in football. Make no mistake, there’s talent here. Kevin Dotson could be a stud. Zach Banner looks the part of a right tackle. Rookie Kendrick Green’s flashes are impressive. But how they come together as a collective five is anyone’s guess.
Dajani then focused on the strength of the team, the Steelers’ defense.
“This defense should again be one of the best in the league. Losing Bud Dupree wasn’t ideal but Alex Highsmith seems like a player ready to step up in his absence. Working off of TJ Watt and Devin Bush Jr. should help as well. One outside cornerback spot will be up for grabs in training camp, but Joe Haden, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds make up a pretty good secondary.”
Pittsburgh still has a strong defense, one capable of getting after the quarterback and making plays in the secondary. But their defense could take a step back with the losses of Mike Hilton, Bud Dupree, and Steven Nelson. How young players like Alex Highsmith, James Pierre, Antoine Brooks Jr. develop will be vital to determining if this unit regresses. Those battles will play out in training camp and the preseason.
Finishing one spot behind the Steelers at #10 were the Tennessee Titans. One spot ahead of them at #8 was the Washington Football Team. The #1 rated roster went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Finishing dead last in the league were the Houston Texans.