Just like that, we’re only six days away from the start of Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.
Great news for our readers: we’re almost done with offseason content and can begin to focus on real football. How about that?
While that’s great news for many readers, we still have to finish off some offseason content, continuing today with my Ranking the Steelers Starters series here at Steelers Depot, focusing on No. 15-13 today.
As I dive further and further into this series, I am finding it much, much harder to figure out how to rank the projected starters for the black and gold ahead of the 2022 season. I believe the Steelers got better in the offseason and added a lot of talent. That’s making it challenging to flush it all out.
Before we dive further into my rankings, I wanted to lay out my projected starters for the season as we draw nearer to Steelers’ Training Camp. Below, I went with 11 personnel and a three-receiver set offensively, while going with the Steelers’ sub-package defense.
If a name is in italics, it means they’ve appeared on the list to day. You’ll see nine names below already in italics.
QB — Mitch Trubisky
RB — Najee Harris
WR — George Pickens
WR – Diontae Johnson
WR – Chase Claypool
TE — Pat Freiermuth
LT — Dan Moore Jr.
LG — Kevin Dotson
C — Mason Cole
RG — James Daniels
RT – Chukwuma Okorafor
DE — Cameron Heyward
DE — Tyson Alualu
OLB — Alex Highsmith
ILB — Devin Bush
ILB — Myles Jack
OLB — TJ Watt
CB — Ahkello Witherspoon
CB — Cameron Sutton
CB – Levi Wallace
S — Minkah Fitzpatrick
S — Terrell Edmunds
K – Chris Boswell
P — Pressley Harvin III
Last note before we dive in here: here’s how the list started out this season:
- No. 24 — Pressley Harvin III, P
- No. 23 — Devin Bush, ILB
- No. 22 — Dan Moore Jr., LT
- No. 21 — Mason Cole, C
- No. 20 — George Pickens, WR
- No. 19 — Chukwuma Okorafor, RT
- No. 18 — Kevin Dotson, LG
- No. 17 — Mitch Trubisky, QB
- No. 16 — Cameron Sutton, CB
No. 15 — Levi Wallace, CB
I was splitting hairs between Wallace and Cameron Sutton for spots No. 15 and 16 in this series, ultimately giving Wallace the edge over Sutton due to his physicality and overall ball skills, recording two interceptions in each of the last three seasons as a starting cornerback in a terrific secondary in Buffalo.
Coming over to the Steelers as a free agent, Wallace is set to fill the Joe Haden role as a strong downhill run defender who brings physicality to the game, while also being an underrated cover corner overall. For now, he profiles as the No. 3 corner that comes onto the field in sub package situations for the Steelers.
I fully believe in Wallace overall and think he’ll quickly make the case to move up this ranking ahead of the 2023 season based on his play on the field.
No. 14 — Terrell Edmunds, S
Edmunds slides down two spots from his 2021 ranking even though he had a very similar season to his 2020 performance ahead of the 2021 rankings. Edmunds recorded the second-highest tackles last season with 89, picked off two more passes, and had a career-high eight tackles for loss, yet despite the strong season saw his market in free agency run relatively dry.
The Steelers are better for it, having brought back Edmunds on a one-year, $2.5 million deal, securing a solid starting safety opposite Minkah Fitzpatrick for another season. Edmunds did a great job really settling into the box safety role in the black and gold, becoming an extra defender against the run, where the Steelers struggled in 2021.
He’s also become a strong coverage safety against tight ends, which the Steelers were hoping for when they drafted him in the first round in 2018. He gets disrespected a bit by the fanbase due to a lack of splash plays, which is understandable, but the Steelers have a very solid strong safety in Edmunds to work with for at least another season.
No. 13 — Tyson Alualu, iDL
There might not be a bigger return to the lineup in 2022 than Tyson Alualu. He remains a vastly underrated talent on the interior of the Steelers’ defensive line next to Cameron Heyward, serving as a stout run defender who can also get after the quarterback in a big way against guards and centers.
Losing Alualu to a broken ankle just six quarters into the season last year was a massive blow to the Steelers’ front seven, which resulted in serious struggles from the rest of the group against the run, as well as the inside linebackers in Devin Bush and Joe Schobert, who struggled to stay clean off blocks last season.
With Alualu back in the fold, the Steelers’ defensive line is that much stronger, even with the loss of Stephon Tuitt to retirement. A vastly underrated piece of the Steelers’ defense should get his due in 2022 back on the field.