The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?
These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.
Question: Who is the Steelers’ most likely first-time Pro Bowler this season?
For as much hand-wringing as there is about the Steelers’ immediate future, it always strikes me just how much talent they actually do have. The fact that they have a number of very viable candidates who could be the answer to this question is somewhat encouraging, even with the looming transition at quarterback on the horizon.
Arguably, they have some players who should have already been in at least one Pro Bowl. Stephon Tuitt, for example, put up better numbers than Cameron Heyward last season, and arguably just straight-up played better, but the latter made the Pro Bowl and the former did not.
Then there are Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Either one of them has the potential to go off and rack up numbers, if they take off and become Ben Roethlisberger’s favored target. Johnson can get volume, and Claypool can deliver the big plays.
Devin Bush is another candidate, who nearly made the Pro Bowl already as a rookie with 100-plus tackles and six takeaways. He is coming back from a torn ACL, but it’s been done before. We can throw in Najee Harris as well, if we want to be generous, given the supposed emphasis the Steelers want to place on the run game, and to be really charitable, let’s throw in Kevin Dotson’s name as well. Anybody else you would add? And which among them do you consider the most likely to reach the Pro Bowl?