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 versatile player?
This seems to be a question that everybody wants to ask these days, with pitcher Shohei Ohtani crushing home runs left and right and watching Lamar Jackson play wide receiver and cornerback on a basketball court, so I figured, why don’t we ask it as well?
After all, one of head coach Mike Tomlin’s favorite phrases is, ‘the more you can do’, as in, the more value you can offer, the more likely you are to stick around. The Steelers often prioritize players with a versatile skill set anyway, so it seems a fair question to pose.
Now, players who can play on both offense and defense, or at least who get the opportunity to do so as more than just a gimmick, are quite rare. The Steelers might stick a defensive lineman out there at fullback once in a while, but that’s about the extent of their permitted versatility in that regard.
They also don’t have any wide receivers who are running backs, or vice versa. But they do have a guy like Cameron Sutton, who can line up at any position in the secondary. The Steelers don’t currently have anybody like this, but they have often in the past had a lineman who could play all five positions.
When it comes to football, of course, or perhaps most things, versatility is primarily reserved for those who are not in featured roles. If you can do something really well, they only want you doing that one thing. T.J. Watt hardly even drops into coverage anymore, a significant change from how the Steelers have used their outside linebackers for many years. Minkah Fitzpatrick is another defender with versality who doesn’t use it much.