An offseason filled with change from top to bottom within the Pittsburgh Steelers’ organization has brought some fresh, new faces into the facility, while sending out some familiar names with lasting legacies in the process.
In three weeks, the new-look Steelers will take to Chuck Noll Field in Latrobe at St. Vincent College for another iteration of Steelers’ Training Camp. For now, we’re stuck in the dog days of the offseason, which leads me to roll out another version of my Ranking The Starters series here at Steelers Depot.
In case you missed how last season’s list went, you can find that here. The top three certainly created some discussion.
This year, with so many new faces and key stalwarts like Ben Roethlisberger and Stephon Tuitt gone, the list could look vastly different.
Before we dive into the first three starters ranked near the bottom in 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.
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
With that out of the way, let’s dive into the list.
No. 24 — Pressley Harvin III, P
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, honestly. While I still remain relatively high on Harvin III due to his big leg overall, there’s no denying that the 2021 seventh-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech struggled mightily in his rookie season. A lot of that may have been due to what he was dealing with off the field with tragedy.
However, he simply wasn’t good enough at times. Still, the Steelers showed some faith in him, bringing in only Cameron Nizialek as some “competition” for training camp.
If Harvin III can harness his game and find some consistency with his big leg, the Steelers will be in good shape on special teams. If not, it could be another lackluster performance in the kicking game under special teams coordinator Danny Smith, potentially forcing real change at the position once again.
No. 23 — Devin Bush, ILB
We’ve written about it extensively here at Steelers Depot throughout the 2021 season and the offseason. Devin Bush was downright awful last season and really seemed to lack confidence overall. His play fell off a cliff in his return from the torn ACL he suffered early in the 2020 season.
Though I still have a ton of confidence in Bush returning to a good level of play in 2022 in what could be his final season with the Steelers, it’s hard to argue he’s not way down in the rankings where he places here, based on what the Steelers did in the offseason and how Bush performed last season.
Going into the 2021 season I had Bush at No. 8. Ahead of the 2020 season, I had Bush at No. 14. Talk about a precipitous drop-off.
While he is very low in my Ranking the Starters series ahead of the 2022 season, I am expecting a big bounce back from Bush, hopefully leading to a new contract with the black and gold, and a rise up these rankings ahead of the 2023 season.
No. 22 — Dan Moore Jr., LT
I like Dan Moore Jr. quite a bit; probably much more than most.
He obviously struggled early on in his rookie season after being rushed into the starting lineup and switched from right tackle back to left tackle just 10 days before the season opener due to the injury to Zach Banner. That’s a hard situation for any player to handle, let alone a fourth-round pick who was attempting to learn both tackle spots as a swing tackle in 2021.
Once he settled into the starting lineup though, Moore Jr. got better and better as the season progressed and held his own down the stretch against some good pass rushers in Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, Baltimore’s Odafe Oweh, and Kansas City’s Melvin Ingram.
There’s certainly significant room for improvement from the second-year pro, something he’s going to continue to have to show this season if he wants to remain the Steelers’ intended franchise left tackle, as former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger pointed out. Based on his career in college at Texas A&M, it would be foolish to write off Moore Jr. as a solid starting left tackle on a contending team.