The last time that we took a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in review, it was weeks before the 2022 NFL Draft took place. It would be safe to say that quite a bit has changed since then. The changes apply to almost every position on the roster. Some are major changes and some minor, though some have remained largely static.
We are closing in on the opening of the Steelers’ several weeks of training camp. This year, it’s back at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. 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: 8
T.J. Watt: Arguably the best defender in the entire league, Watt doesn’t even talk about being great anymore. His only goal is to wreck games to win games. At times seemingly able to will any result he wants, he has created the loftiest of standards for himself to meet.
Alex Highsmith: Entering his third season, Highsmith showed a lot of promise in 2021 as his first year as a full-time starter, especially after he got further removed from his groin injury he suffered to start the year. He has exhibited a well-rounded game that does not dismiss the importance of run support and coverage.
Derrek Tuszka: The third-year outside linebacker was originally added last year for special teams, but after Melvin Ingram’s trade, he became a more important rotational player. There is perhaps some room for growth here, but his ceiling is low.
Delontae Scott: Another player who started out on the practice squad last year, Scott was only called up for a game or two. He will be challenged for a spot on the practice squad in 2022.
Genard Avery: A veteran addition the Steelers made via free agency, Avery is not a plus pass-rusher for the edge by any means, but he is a capable run defender, and perhaps a change of scheme and coaching can help bring a bit more out of him in terms of rush.
Tuzar Skipper: Originally signed as a college free agent a few years ago, Skipper has bounced around the league, but has finally landed back in Pittsburgh for the third time. He will be competing with Skipper and Avery, primarily, for a roster spot, and possibly for the backup job.
T.D. Moultry: A rookie college free agent out of Auburn, Moultry was a rotational player in college, finishing his career with 8.5 sacks and 70 total tackles despite playing a school-record 59 games.
Tyree Johnson: Another Texas A&M player, Johnson believes his bad luck has held him back, but that he’s ready to show his best efforts moving forward. He had his best season last year with 8.5 sacks.
John Simon: The most veteran rusher they had on the roster at and point last season, Simon was released after the draft when they signed Moultry and Johnson. He only played in one or two games for the Steelers after being a late-season addition.
Notes and Camp Outlook:
One thing is for certain, and that is that the Steelers have not culled together any competition for their starting outside linebackers, T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. It’s not even clear if they have anybody who will demand some rotational time.
Avery is the most notable player on this list behind the starters, but he has to prove that he is not such a one-dimensional player. Tuszka still has room to grow, and we would all like to see Skipper blossom into the player he looked like he could be in that preseason years ago.
Moultry and Johnson are the X-factors. The Steelers have gotten good performances out of college free agent edges before, with Skipper’s preseason being one of them, but there’s a list of names of various notoriety. Can either of them crack the roster? At least one is likely to stick to the practice squad, at least.