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Power Ranking Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Battles: Quarterback, Left Guard, More

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Pittsburgh Steelers Kevin Dotson Kendrick Green Minicamp
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive linemen Kevin Dotson (69) and Kendrick Green (53) practice together during minicamp, Thursday, June 9, 2022 -- ED THOMPSON

The Pittsburgh Steelers report to training camp next week at Saint Vincent College for the first time since 2019. But beyond the obvious storyline of the return to their training grounds that date back to 1969 with the team, several position battles make for an interesting camp.

But which competitions compel the most interest and hold the highest importance? That question led to Alan SaundersChris Carter and Nick Farabaugh to break down each battle, and rank them.

Our power rankings were complied with each first place vote getting ten points, and so on and so forth. Here’s the final tally of Steelers Now‘s consensus training camp battle power rankings for the Steelers.

1. QUARTERBACK

Next week, quarterback battle arrives to Steelers training camp at Saint Vincent College for the first time since Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season in 2004. Mitch Trubisky may be a clear favorite, but after a season as Josh Allen’s backup, there’s no guarantee he will hold off Kenny Pickett or Mason Rudolph.

The Steelers assembled a mix of a rookie in Pickett, a new free agent with 50 starts in Trubisky, and the quarterback with the second-most starts under Mike Tomlin behind only Ben Roethlisberger in Rudolph. That should produce a healthy competition, and a solid starter for the season. Read my full prediction here. — Carter

2. LEFT GUARD

Left guard represents the position with the most even ground between competitors in Steelers training camp. Kevin Dotson and Kendrick Green are both middle round picks still on their rookie contracts.

Neither have proven themselves to be long term starters and both have told Steelers Now that they see the competition as “50-50” in that they shared the same amount of reps in OTAs and minicamp. But that was without the pads, and when pads go on at camp, we’ll see our first real glimpse into who holds the upper hand. — Carter

3. BOUNDARY CORNERBACK

The Steelers have three options when it comes to outside cornerbacks, but no clear pecking order has been established to this point between Cam Sutton, Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon. Sutton started most of 2021 opposite Joe Hayden, but also found himself pushed to the inside in sub packages.

Witherspoon‘s emergency down the stretch front of the season moved Sutton inside even more frequently. Sutton‘s versatility could be a hindrance to him regaining an outside starting job, with the other two options playing scant reps in the slot. — Saunders

4. NICKELBACK

Whoever loses out on a starting role at boundary corner will be put into the mix in the slot, along with 2021 returners Art Maulet and Tre Norwood. Maulet is a trusted tackler, perhaps even more so than Sutton, and got a lot of his play last season as a run-down cornerback. Norwood had a promising rookie season and could be poised for Year 2 growth. — Saunders

5. NO. 2 RUNNING BACK

Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland are nominally battling to be the backup running back behind Najee Harris, but this battle feels more like one where it’s a question if either player will step up and earn the role, or if the Steelers will need to look outside the organization to find a change of pace. Neither player had a strong 2021, though McFarland is coming off an injury. — Saunders

6. No. 2 WIDE RECEIVER

With JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington gone, the WR2 battle is one to watch closely. Between third-year veteran Chase Claypool and talented rookie George Pickens, there is plenty of athletic upside here. It should also be said this could be more of a battle at Z-receiver specifically. If Claypool shifts to the slot, could he still be the WR2?

Sure, if the productivity is there. This battle will be about how quickly Pickens can adjust to the NFL game and all about just how much Claypool has worked on the nuances of the position. There is plenty of talent here but a lot of questions about what both of these guys can do as well heading into training camp. Whoever has that skillset suited to do the most and dominate with their strengths will win this one. — Farabaugh

7. NO. 3 OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

Between Genard Avery, Tuzar Skipper, and Derrek Tuszka, the Steelers have plenty of bodies at outside linebacker. However, who steps up to get that third, main rotational spot? Tuszka has the familiarity with the scheme, but Avery arguably had the most productive season of anyone here with his 2018 season.

Meanwhile, Skipper has always performed well in training camp, but has never converted it into anything just yet. Whoever can show the most consistency in their pass rush skillset will win this battle. — Farabaugh

8. PUNT RETURNER/KICK RETURNER

Ray-Ray McCloud is gone and that means the Steelers are looking for their return man. Gunner Olszewski, who was an All-Pro in this area in 2020 should be the immediate favorite to be the return man. Calvin Austin, Steven Sims, Anthony McFarland, and others could have a say before all is said and done.

The Steelers have to find the dependability and explosiveness at the position with McCloud gone. With their historical woes at the position, this will be an important one to watch. — Farabaugh

9. NO. 5 WIDE RECEIVER

The bottom of the wide receiver depth chart is wide open. While the first four are likely crystallized in, Olszewski and Sims are joined by some veterans in Miles Boykin and Anthony Miller who want to make some noise. Even some young players like Tyler Vaughns and Tyler Snead will have a say here.

Special teams will be a deciding factor into who gets the call to stay on the team, but every little thing matters for these guys. The preseason games will be very important to see who can emerge from this group. — Farabaugh

10. SECOND DEFENSIVE LINE GROUP

One of the lesser talked about battles will be for the sub-package defensive line rotation the Steelers could use. With Tyson Alualu coming off a serious leg injury, it is possible that they look to lessen his load a bit and instead give the sub-package snaps to Larry Ogunjobi, who is a traditional 3-technique.

This also depends upon Ogunjobi’s foot as well. Regardless, this will be one to watch as camp progresses on into the later stages if Ogunjobi participates heavily. — Farabaugh

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