The Pittsburgh Steelers went right to work in changing the look of this roster as soon as they had the chance. Right from the jump of legal tampering for free agency, the Steelers began the most expensive and aggressive free agency the team has ever had. They also had a draft in which many analysts and fans had them moving up to take whichever quarterback they wanted. Luckily, this was not the case and the team was able to keep all their picks and get their guy in Kenny Pickett in the first round.
Clearly people are noticing the changes, as CBS Sports analyst, Bryan DeArdo had the Steelers ranked as the fourth most improved team in the NFL:
💪Five Most Improved NFL Teams:
1. Philadelphia Eagles
2.Los Angeles Chargers
3. New York Jets
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Do you agree? 👀 pic.twitter.com/UdimK596U5
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) July 5, 2022
This is very encouraging to see for the team and the fans. This off-season was the first in 18 seasons that the team does not have future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger slotted in at QB1, and the team’s future seemed fairly uncertain after a tough Wild Card playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Roethlisberger retired and long-time standout receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster left in free agency. As stated before, the team made it clear they were still seeing themselves as competitors and got right to work.
Let’s take a look at some of the key additions that have been made that helped shape where the roster sits today.
Steelers Key Additions
Mitch Trubisky: The first and most obvious one is Mitch Trubisky. He is expected to be slotted in at the QB1 going into training camp and likely the season. He signed with the Steelers in the early hours of legal tampering. Trubisky is coming off a year he spent with the Buffalo Bills backing up Josh Allen. Trubisky, the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, spent his first four seasons with the Chicago Bears, where he largely put together a promising, but inconsistent run. He led Chicago to two postseason berths, as well as a division title in 2018. He is very athletic and can make things happen with his legs, but has a strong arm and can push the ball downfield as well. He posted an 87 career passing rating and boasts a 29-21 career record as a starter (25-13 after his rookie season).
Trubisky looks like a perfect fit for what offensive coordinator, Matt Canada wants to do, and will certainly have his chance to prove why they made sure to snatch him up the minute they could.
James Daniels: Another key addition the Steelers made was signing Trubisky’s former Chicago teammate, James Daniels. Daniels protected Trubisky on Chicago’s offensive line for three of Trubisky’s four seasons in Chicago. He earned the starting left guard job his rookie year in 2018 and never looked back. He has experience at all interior positions, but figures to start at right guard for the Steelers. He instantly upgrades an offensive line that struggled last season in both pass and run protection, and injects youth and athleticism to the group.
Myles Jack: Easily the biggest defensive addition to the group. Myles Jack was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a cap casualty and immediately gobbled up by the Steelers. Jack is a high level athlete that was highly impactful during his time in Jacksonville. He has recorded over 100 tackles three of his last four seasons, the one he didn’t in which he only appeared in 11 games due to injury. Jack will join forces with Devin Bush and newly acquired linebackers coach Brian Flores to try and bolster this defense in all areas, specifically the run game in which the Steelers defense ranked dead last in 2021.
Kenny Pickett: Although Trubisky is the projected starter; Kenny Pickett figures to be the potential quarterback of the future for the team. Taken 20th overall in this year’s NFL Draft, Pickett comes from right across the hall from the University of Pittsburgh. Pickett is coming off by far his best year of his college career in which he threw for 42 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. He was also a Heisman finalist. He may not be an immediate impact, but for the long haul could be the guy who has the reigns for the Steelers for years to come.
George Pickens: This is the rookie that I believe has the chance to make the biggest immediate impact. The Steelers took George Pickens with their second round pick from the University of Georgia. Pickens is a guy with first round pedigree and was projected, before an injury that kept him out much of this past season, to be a first round pick and a high one at that. He has big downfield play ability and has a huge frame at 6’3” and 195 lbs. He will definitely get chances to flash his skills and continue to show why the Steelers are a top tier team when it comes to drafting at the wide receiver position.
Other key additions: Larry Ogunjobi DT, Levi Wallace CB, Mason Cole OL, Calvin Austin WR, Damontae Kazee S.
It is definitely new territory, but if the team struggles, it’s not for a lack of trying on the front office’s end. There will definitely be some growing pains, but with these key additions in spots of need, I believe DeArdo’s assessment of the state of this roster is accurate.
They have talent and quality depth at what feels like almost every position. Mix all that and having coach Mike Tomlin (whose never had a losing season if you haven’t heard) at the helm, I believe this team is in the mix to be very competitive heading into the 2022 season. How good? Only time will tell. For now, training camp is only weeks away, and we will likely have a better read on where this team is once they begin to hit the field together in full pads in Latrobe.
The standard is the standard, and we are about to see if they can keep that standard where the team and fans expect it to be.