The Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster went through quite the overhaul this offseason. The team went on a frenzy during free agency, acquiring players at nearly every position on both sides of the football to shore up nearly every single need it had prior to the draft. The Steelers then managed to find value at nearly every spot of the 2023 NFL Draft, moving up and down the board to secure their hopeful franchise LT in Broderick Jones while landing CB Joey Porter Jr. at the top of the second round and TE Darnell Washington, who fell to the bottom of the third round.
Having completely reworked the ILB room as well as adding key starters like CB Patrick Peterson and S Keanu Neal in the secondary, Pittsburgh will have several new starters on the defensive side of the ball in 2023. T.J. Watt was asked about if OTAs are more meaningful this time around due to the influx of new starters this season, to which he responded that OTAs and minicamp are always an important time, regardless of the number of new faces in the building.
“Every year we’re adding people, so I don’t know if it’s any truly any different,” Watt said via video from Josh Rowntree of 93.7 The Fan. “This time of year is always super important. I mean, that’s why we’re all here and we’re just trying to get better each and every day. Trying to grow, trying to learn from each other, trying to learn how we practice, how we do things here in Pittsburgh. And also being open-minded to the guys that are veterans that have done things successfully in other places.”
Watt does have a point when saying that Pittsburgh tends to add new faces to the defense on a yearly basis. Last offseason, the Steelers signed DL Larry Ogunjobi, LB Myles Jack, CB Levi Wallace, and S Damontae Kazee, having to mix them in to the equation with their returning starters. This offseason, Pittsburgh added DL Armon Watts and Breiden Fehoko, LBs Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts, and Tanner Muse, OLB Markus Golden, CBs Patrick Peterson and Chandon Sullivan, and S Keanu Neal to either start or rotate in.
While the defense will continue to largely do what it has done under DC Teryl Austin with Mike Tomlin’s guidance, listening to the outside opinions and thoughts of the new additions to the roster can’t hurt. Peterson brings a wealth of experience, having played at a high level for his entire NFL career, and is already being seen as a mentor to Porter Jr. and the other DBs in the room.
This defense needs to come together to play dominant football in 2023, meaning everyone needs to be on the same page. This means that the new guys need to get accustomed to how Pittsburgh does things. Being open-minded to their additions and the things they have done in the past would be wise to give these players an opportunity to excel in advantageous situations.