The last time NFL.com analyst Dan Hanzus dropped his popular NFL power rankings came just days after the conclusion of the 2022 NFL Draft. In those power rankings, the Pittsburgh Steelers — undergoing a number of changes top to bottom in the organization — ranked 21st overall.
Since then, the Steelers have signed Minkah Fitzpatrick, Chris Boswell and Diontae Johnson to extensions, saw Stephon Tuitt retire, and landed Larry Ogunjobi on a relatively cheap deal in free agency, adding to the changes within the organization on the field and in the front office.
Now, just days away from the start of the preseason for the black and gold with a home date at Acrisure Stadium at 7 p.m. Saturday night with the Seattle Seahawks, the Steelers remain at No. 21 in Hanzus’s rankings, which dropped Thursday morning.
Pittsburgh slots in one spot behind the Minnesota Vikings, who climbed two spots in Hanzus’s rankings, and one slot ahead of the Cleveland Browns, who fell eight spots from the draft to now in the power rankings.
For the Steelers, everything continues to center on the three-way quarterback competition.
“The idea of Kenny Pickett: Day 1 Starter continues to lose steam in Pittsburgh. Mitch Trubisky has gotten the majority of first-team reps in camp, while Mason Rudolph apparently has yet to throw an interception through two-plus weeks of practice,” Hanzus writes regarding his ranking of the Steelers at No. 21 overall in the power rankings. “As for Pickett, some very rocky struggles to begin camp led to a No. 3 designation on the official depth chart released by the team. Given the underwhelming NFL career pedigree of the players ahead of Pickett, it would be shortsighted to say the former Pitt star won’t make an impact in his first season. Still, it’s clear he has a lot of work to do to earn Mike Tomlin’s trust. All part of the process.”
Realistically, nothing has truly changed in a major way to cause the Steelers to jump up or down in the power rankings. Hanzus keeping them slotted in at No. 21 overall is the right call ahead of the start of the preseason.
As Hanzus writes, the idea of rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett starting Week 1 is losing steam. Though he’s struggled at times in training camp, he’s found his footing recently. Still, the snaps just aren’t Pitt overall as the Steelers are preparing Mitch Trubisky to be the starter to open the season Sept. 11 on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. That’s a little unfortunate for Mason Rudolph, who has performed very well in training camp to date, but isn’t being afforded the same opportunity, as far as preparation as the starter, that Trubisky is receiving.
It’s all a process though, not only at quarterback for the black and gold, but as a team in general that’s entering into a period of transition from the front office, down to the roster, and even at their own home stadium. The 2022 season will certainly be an interesting one to follow, and will be interesting to see how the Steelers rise and fall each week in Hanzus’s popular power rankings for NFL.com.