A strong second half of last season vaulted the Pittsburgh Steelers into the middle of the power rankings before the playoffs started. After Omar Khan and company revitalized the roster this offseason with key free agent signings and a top-end rookie class, how do the Steelers rank up among their peers now? The verdict from most is that the Steelers are average with high upside.
Here is how some of the experts view the Steelers heading into summer:
Analysis: The dramatically upgraded OL for Kenny Pickett and Najee Harris includes first-rounder T Broderick Jones and Gs Isaac Semaulo and Nate Herbig, and Mike Tomlin will get the most out of CBs Patrick Peterson and rookie Joey Porter Jr.
Analysis: The elements are there for the Steelers to start contesting for the AFC North again with Kenny Pickett firmly entrenched under center. Najee Harris, George Pickens, and Pat Freiermuth provide an assortment of weapons. T.J. Watt should be at full strength on the edge. Factor in Mike Tomlin’s stability on the sidelines, and Pittsburgh should rebound.
Analysis: What’s not to like? A left tackle to protect Kenny Pickett in the first round, the welcome-home second-round pick of Joey Porter Jr., the Darnell Washington Round 3 steal, and the reunion of the Herbig brothers. Pittsburgh’s steady climb back to relevance, without ever bottoming out, continues … Would you let Ray Lewis’ son go to Baltimore or Joe Burrow’s son go to Cincinnati or Michael Dunn’s kid land back in Cleveland? Thanks for the gift.
Analysis: QB Kenny Pickett better be prepared to deliver in Year 2, because HC Mike Tomlin and GM Omar Khan have put a first-rate supporting cast around him.
Analysis: The addition of Georgia tackle Broderick Jones was a desperately needed upgrade to one of the league’s weaker offensive lines. Pittsburgh made the fan base happy and added talent to the secondary with the selection of cornerback Joey Porter Jr. Then, Pittsburgh bolstered the trenches on defense with Keeanu Benton of Wisconsin. Getting better along the offensive line and in the secondary has been a priority for the Steelers … The Cincinnati Bengals have Joe Burrow. The Baltimore Ravens have Lamar Jackson. The Cleveland Browns have Deshaun Watson. And the Steelers have…Kenny Pickett. If Watson plays anything like his 2020 self this year, the Steelers will have the worst quarterback in the division by a massive margin. That’s a tall obstacle to overcome—probably insurmountable.
Analysis: A lack of consistency on the offensive line has held the Steelers back since the end of the Ben Roethlisberger era. Perhaps the team’s decision to trade up in the first round to secure Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones at 14th overall will be remembered as the start of a new era of success in the trenches. This is all part of a pattern in recent seasons, as Pittsburgh continues to use the top of its draft board to build a foundation for the offense. In 2021, it was running back Najee Harris; last year, it was Kenny Pickett; and now, a blind-side blocker for the young quarterback. The goal is to develop and contend at the same time.
Analysis: Mike Tomlin has to be thrilled with this offseason. The offensive line was retooled with free agent Isaac Seumalo and first-rounder Broderick Jones. In the second round, Pittsburgh filled a need and made a sentimental pick with Joey Porter Jr.. Later on, the Steelers took three talented prospects: Keeanu Benton, Darnell Washington and Nick Herbig.
Analysis: If second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett can take the next step, they will be much higher than this. That’s the main question hanging over this team. Improving the line in front of him is a must.
Analysis: No organization boasts the sort of continuity and overall consistency as the Steelers. They are simply allergic to underachieving. That is their organizational superpower, and Mike Tomlin is at the forefront. Pittsburgh made some excellent moves during the NFL Draft to address some of their more pressing needs. In the end, their success will come down to what kind of upside they can find with Kenny Pickett.
Analysis: The Steelers serviced their quarterback and running game by trading up for Broderick Jones and helped the defense out by grabbing Joey Porter Jr. With Pittsburgh banking on a Kenny Pickett takeoff this year, it helps to have the QB’s blind side protected. Jones will slide next to veteran guard Isaac Seumalo, who should help ease the transition. That’s a very athletic left side for RB Najee Harris to explore.