The Pittsburgh Steelers have arrived at training camp in Latrobe, and have begun preparations for the 2022 season. Just prior to arrival, the team added veteran running back Jeremy McNichols, seemingly filling on of the the last remaining voids on their roster.
So what is left for new general manager Omar Khan to do between now and the start of the 2022 season? Cale Berger argues that the team lacks pass-rushing depth, while Alan Saunders thanks the biggest area of opportunity as long the offensive line.
CALE BERGER, ARGUING FOR OLB
Pittsburgh does not have a legitimate third outside linebacker. No disrespect to Derrek Tuszka or Gerard Avery, but they are inadequate options to spell T.J. Watt or Alex Highsmith and still keep the integrity of the defense intact.
Not only does Pittsburgh need a reliable third edge rusher for the disaster scenario of one of Watt or Highsmith getting injured, but simply to as substitute for them when one inevitably needs a breather.
Watt earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors last season playing only 65% of the Steelers’ defensive snaps. Highsmith logged slightly more at nearly 73%.
Whether those total are lowered due to intentional pitch counts or injury, the truth remains that the players behind Watt and Highsmith are not up to the task to contribute in their absence.
While certainly an older crop, there are still plenty of options still available on the market that would likely be inclined to take the limited role Melvin Ingram would not last season given their age. Injuries happen. So does rest, which given the recent deployment of Watt and Highsmith, is the most immediate and obvious reason to make a move.
With the Steelers relying on their defense far more than in recent years, they can’t afford to leave themselves exposed. Adding a legitimate third pass rusher is the final and most prudent move the Steelers have left to make now that camp has begun.
ALAN SAUNDERS, ARGUING FOR TACKLE
The fact that the Steelers have gone back-to-back offseasons without significantly addressing their tackle position, particularly at left tackle, does not mean it is no longer a need. Since the retirement of Alejandro Villanueva — and probably even slightly before — the left tackle position has been a question mark.
Last season, the Steelers drafted Dan Moore Jr. in the fourth round, and the results were middling, at best. Moore’s seven sacks allowed were tied for the 10th-most among NFL tackles, his 31 hurries were ninth-most and nine quarterback hits allowed were tied for eighth-most.
It’s reasonable to expect Moore to improve in Year 2, but as a better run blocker than pass blocker, he does not profile to be the kind of blind-side protecting stalwart that teams crave at left tackle. Chukwuma Okorafor has that pass-blocking pedigree, but apparently, not the trust of the coaching staff to handle the position, and he remains at right tackle.
The Steelers aren’t going to get a starting left tackle at this point in the offseason, so this discussion is somewhat academic. But the fact that they haven’t addressed the position in a meaningful fashion doesn’t make the need go away.
The Steelers upgraded the interior of their line, and added wide receiver and quarterback options for 2022. But they chose to stand pat at tackle, and if the new offense doesn’t work, it’s a good bet to be the reason why.
YOU PICK THE WINNER
Who made the better argument
- Cale Berger, OLB (65%, 20 Votes)
- Alan Saunders, OT (35%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 31
Chris Carter defeated Berger, arguing that James Daniels will have a bigger impact than Larry Ogunjobi among Steelers free agent additions.