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Steelers Analysis

Top Position Battles to Watch at Steelers Training Camp



Steelers Training Camp Broderick Jones

Steelers training camp kicks off on Thursday, and there will be plenty of spirited battles that the team will need to parse through in order to cut down their final roster and find the best starting 22. What are some of the best battles to watch and who will win them?

Left Tackle

This is the biggest battle of Steelers training camp to me. I’m not sure how it is close. Broderick Jones will start at some point, but will it be at the outset? I think Dan Moore Jr. is going to give Jones a real push. Moore is stronger and reworked his body completely. Meanwhile, Jones is athletic and has more run game upside, but they can’t play him if he is going to get Kenny Pickett killed, especially with two verified concussions in Pickett’s portfolio.

This is will all come down to a few factors but none more important than how quickly Jones progresses throughout training camp and comes together as a complete player. For right now, I lean on the draft capital and say he should be the slight favorite here, but if he loses it, I will not be shocked.

Winner Prediction: Broderick Jones

Backup Center

Sticking on the offensive line, there is a big battle brewing at backup center. Really, the participants of this one could be thrown into two buckets. It’s really Kendrick Green, Spencer Anderson, and Ryan McCollum that the team will take a look at here. Of course, Green’s had a disappointing career. Anderson is a seventh round rookie and an unknown. McCollum has stuck around a bit but there’s still questions there.

They could just keep James Daniels as the backup option with the plentiful guard depth they have. In addition, this is a place I would not be surprised to see an outside guy come in and be added before the season started. But if we have to say who will win it right now, the clear favorite is Green. McCollum’s been a journeyman and Anderson has yet to take a snap at center with the team.

Winner Prediction: Kendrick Green (but they should add an external player)

Nose Tackle

Starting nose tackle is another key battle that seems to be rather forgotten right now. But this one has a lot of intriguing possibilities. Keeanu Benton is the rookie with upside. Breiden Fehoko is the stud run stopper. Armon Watts is the pass rush specialist. Montravius Adams is the experienced incumbent. There’s four rather solid options and all bring different flavors. Benton is the most complete and he and Watts can play outside of the nose tackle position.

That might give Watts a path to making this team outside of this even if he does win the role. There’s two spots up for grabs with the backup role there, too. I love Benton’s upside and body. He’s just got a lot to learn but there’s strength and explosiveness and game that raises his instant floor. I think he pulls this out, with Fehoko’s run stopping abilities allowing him to make the team.

Winner Prediction: Keeanu Benton

Right Cornerback

Another starting spot is up for grabs on the defense, and it is who plays across from Patrick Peterson. Really, there is a competition in the slot, too, but Peterson and Chandon Sullivan seem destined to split duties there in some ways.. But this one here is right out of the gate. Levi Wallace, Joey Porter Jr., Cory Trice, and even James Pierre to a degree have a claim to this spot in some way.

Really, Porter Jr. and Wallace are the two to watch, despite a strong spring camp from Trice. There is a lot of upside to Porter and I think his length and football IQ combination allows him to play early. I just think Wallace is a much better player than most people realize. Porter can come in on sub-packages when Peterson kicks inside. That’s fine, but Wallace is a fighter and a good ball player. I expect him to win.

Winner Prediction: Levi Wallace


This is another battle that is far more important than you might think. The running back position is one of brutality and injuries happen. There’s no Benny Snell around this time to fill this role outright, though. Now, the competition will be between Anthony McFarland, Alfonzo Graham, Jason Huntley, and Darius Hagans. I thought McFarland would run away with this one but Graham is making me second question it overall.

The Steelers have something in Graham and he has the right mentality. It really comes down to where McFarland is and I thought he did well for himself this spring. So, it is tough for me to outright predict Graham to win this one because McFarland looks really good and has a better receiving repertoire than anyone else in this field. I’ll go with him, but Graham looms.

Winner Prediction: Anthony McFarland


Oh, come on, you had to expect some punter talk here, right? Pressley Harvin III and Braden Mann are going to have a battle. They are both veterans at this point with various things going for them. Mann has a higher floor, Harvin has the higher ceiling, and both have consistency issues throughout their careers.

Let’s be real, that will be the deciding battle in this race. Whichever one of these guys has the best days of stacking successful kicks together will endear themselves to Danny Smith. Mann’s resume is a little more consistent than that of Harvin’s, so I lean him ever so slightly here.

Winner Prediction: Braden Mann

Slot Cornerback

I mentioned it above, but slot cornerback is a battle. I’m not sure how much of a true battle it is, though. Is there really a starter to come out of this or will there be a rotation? I think the latter is likely, but there are about four different guys in this battle. Peterson, Sullivan, Duke Dawson, and Elijah Riley should all have some sort of say in this battle during training camp.

Peterson was brought here to be the versatile guy and help replace Cam Sutton. Sullivan is Arthur Maulet’s replace with more a flair towards coverage ability than run down blitzing. Riley is a versatile chess piece who so far is the sleeper. Dawson has not played in an NFL game since 2020, but secondary coach Grady Brown talked him up. Take me down for the easy pick here, I think the rotation of Peterson and Sullivan makes sense.

Winner Prediction: Patrick Peterson and Chandon Sullivan rotation 

Returner / Last Wide Receiver Spots

Alright back to special teams a little bit. I put the returner and last wide receiver spots together because I think a lot of it depends on who wins this competition. Guys like Gunner Olszewski and Jordan Byrd need to be the return man to guarantee a spot on this roster. Meanwhile, if a guy like Calvin Austin III wins that job, it opens up the door for others like Dez Fitzpatrick and Hakeem Butler to make a serious roster push.

Everyone seems to forget about Miles Boykin, but he is one of the better gunners this league has to offer. The receiver spot should be a spirited battle and so should returner. Anthony McFarland has a stake in that battle as well to possibly win there. But I think Austin’s electricity gives him the inside edge to win there, which will open up two spots for others to possibly make the team.

Winner Prediction (Returner): Calvin Austin III

Winner Prediction (WR): Miles Boykin