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Steelers Analysis

5 Steelers to Watch Against the Buccaneers



Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

The Steelers are in Tampa Bay and are gearing up for their first game of the season. It will be the first time we will see if the things that were shown in Latrobe could translate into game action. However, while all 90 players are worthy of watching, who is the most important players to watch? Here are five players to keep a close eye on.

Kenny Pickett

This is the obvious answer, but it remains the best answer. Pickett is the most important player in the team’s success and has shown some new inclinations in practice this year. He seems to be more comfortable in the pocket, but how easy is it to read the pocket movement and management without a true live pocket? That is the biggest area to really watch Pickett in when he takes the field.

However, he has shown some new tendencies that are showcasing that the game is slowing down for him. That is why he is starting to push the ball down the field a bit more in training camp. But again, is this a mirage or something that translates into a game-setting?

Regardless of the fact, the success of Pickett will determine the next few years of how the Steelers will set things in motion. Without a true answer at quarterback, the talent accumulation is somewhat futile, so this is the first peak at what Pickett will look like in a live game this year. That’s important in its own right.

Broderick Jones

Yet again, this is obvious but one that has to be mentioned. Jones is the guy who has been hard to get a gauge on just how quickly the Steelers want to acclimate him into first-team reps and where they see that timeline going. I expect he will get more first-team reps following this game, but how he performs in his first-game action is going to be important to see his immediate game readiness.

There is no question that Jones is athletic and is a plus run blocker. But how polished are his hands and footwork at this point in pass protection? That is where things will really come together to determine the timeline for when his first start can be out of the gate. If Jones can put together a quality performance, he can start to climb the ladder.

Darnell Washington

Darnell Washington is a throwback tight end that is the absolute dream of a team that wants to get out in space on screens and run the football efficiently. When the pads have come on, it has been clear that Washington just feels far more comfortable in that space. Up to this point, his blocking has all been there, and moreover, Washington has been a threat in the red zone.

Well, now it is time to see what Washington looks like in a game setting and how his tools translate into the NFL game. My guess is they will translate quite well despite some questions from NFL evaluators. But he is a unique mismatch weapon that really could add to how the offense operates.

Kenny Robinson

There is going to be a major opportunity for Robinson given how the Steelers are banged up at safety right now. He is likely to get the start and has taken the bull by the horns so far in these practices. Robinson looks like a guy who has been around the NFL before, and he is making plays on the football in practice on top of that.

There are limitations to his game. I want to see how willing he is to fill the alley and make plays in the run game. But I can not deny what he has shown as a single-high free safety. There is a specific skill set that you need to play from sideline to sideline and he has it. Now, let’s see how much he embraces that on the field.

Kwon Alexander

The Steelers inside linebacker corps has been the surprise of training camp so far for me. But it really started to show when Kwon Alexander came on the scene. The veteran linebacker is a refreshing mix of physical while giving significant coverage upside compared to the rest of the room. He will contribute to the room this season and play a decent amount, but I want to see how that live leadership really enhances in a live game.

Alexander has followed up his signing with a strong training camp. The division of labor in that room should be one that accentuates the strengths of the guys, and I want to see how they specifically deploy Alexander and where his three-down potential is at this point in his career. However, one thing that can not be denied is that he makes the room much better than it was before.

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