Image Credit: (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
With Training Camp about to start for the NFL in a few weeks, there are questions that follow each team. Like I did with the Eagles, I will be doing the Top 5 Biggest questions for every team heading into Training Camp. Next up is the Pittsburgh Steelers who had the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. But there are still questions that remain with this team.
1. Who will be the week 1 starting quarterback?
Well, let's get this one out of the way immediately. The Pittsburgh Steelers finally are going into the NFL season with a new starting quarterback. I mean two years too late, but hey better late than never. Let's look at the current QBs on the Steelers roster. Mitchell Trubisky signed a deal with the Steelers during free agency. Let's be real though he was dead on arrival when the Bears drafted him after making that stupid trade up from one spot to acquire him. Hopefully, a change of scenery can help his career. The Steelers predictably selected a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft by setting him 20th overall. Kenny Pickett has promise and could start right away, but there is still plenty of work to go with him. Pickett has to clean up his footwork, throwing mechanics, and awareness. He also has to work on adapting to the NFL, especially with his small hand size which could be an issue in the NFL. He should not be ruled out as the Week 1 starter as of now. He should be lucky that he has two great coaches in Mike Tomlin and Brian Flores. Mason Rudolph has had multiple chances the past few seasons and while showing flashes in some parts of games, he just is not consistent to be the full-time starter. Chris Oladokun is going to be a camp arm and I doubt he makes the roster. I still don’t understand why the Steelers even drafted him to begin with, but it is the 7th round I guess. It is a wait-and-see who wins the week one job, but if I were to decide who has the advantage as of now, I would go with Mitch Trunisky.
2. Who will be the number 2 running back for the team?
There is no debate that Najee Harris will be the starting running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, this got me thinking, who would be the backup behind him? I legit had to go on Bing and search it up. The Steelers would absolutely be in trouble at the running back position if he goes down with an injury. So who else is in the running back group not named Najee Harris? Benny Snell Jr is not terrible, but he has not been great through his time with the Steelers. Anthony McFarland showed flashes but was injured most of last year. I would not rule him out if he can produce like he did his rookie season. Mateo Durant is a player many are hyping up and is impressing the coaches during OTA’s and could be a hidden gem. Jaylen Warren and Trey Edmonds are battling for a roster spot, but I am not ruling them out of the battle for the backup role. While it is a backup role, it is an important watch because if Najee goes down there needs to be a plan on who will be backing him up.
3. The Steelers did improve the interior o-line, but what about blindside tackle?
The Steelers made a lot of smart moves during the offseason and have built up the offensive line by bringing in James Daniels and Mason Cole in free agency. Both should heavily improve the o-line but did they really do much to help improve the o-line at tackle. What they did though is sign Chukwuma Okafor to a three-year 29.25 million dollar contract. I don’t think Okafor is awful, but he definitely has been inconsistent. Maybe next year he will do better, but he is a better fit as a right tackle. He struggled when he was the left tackle, so if I were the Steelers, I would absolutely keep Okafor at right tackle, unless he improves in training camp. But what about the left tackle position. Did the Steelers use a draft pick on a tackle in the 2022 NFL Draft? Nope. That honestly is one of the only moves that were questionable for the Steelers during the offseason. Hopefully, Dan Moore, Joe Haeg, or Jake Dixon can impress in training camp and showcase that they can be a great blindside tackle.
4. Do the Steelers really have a plan at cornerback? The Steelers did not really do a lot at the cornerback position. Excluding signing Levi Wallace, the steelers did nothing to improve the cornerback crew. The most surprising part is that the Steelers did not use a draft pick at this position. Ahkello Witherspoon is not terrible and has shown a lot of flashes in the NFL, but had to be more consistent. Cameron Sutton same could be said, but last season he had a career year and started most games. Besides Witherspoon and Sutton, the rest of the cornerback is not good at all and I wonder if the Steelers have a plan for this position. They better know what they are doing and if not wide receivers are going to run all over the cornerback crew.
5. Who will start at Strong Safety?
The Free Safety position is already locked up as Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the best safeties in the NFL today. But there is still a question on who will be starting at the other safety position. Looking at the current safeties on the team it can be close. I don’t know why they brought back Terrell Edmunds and yes he has had strong statistical seasons but looking at how he plays overall, he is a liability in coverage. Damonte Kazee was solid with the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons (when healthy). Miles Killebrew showed flashes during his time in Detroit but is mainly a special teams player. Karl Joseph, I honestly forgot was still in the league and I don’t think he played a snap last year. It will be interesting how this battle will go because I have no clue who will get the starting role.
Bonus Question: What will the Pittsburgh Steelers stadium be named?
This is mainly a business question and has nothing to do with the on-field product, but I have to mention this. News recently broke while I was writing this that the Pittsburgh Steelers Stadium will no longer be called Heinz Field as the company Heinz will not extend the naming rights deal for the 2022 NFL Season. It is going to be weird not calling the Steeler's home stadium Heinz Field as that has been its name for at least 2 decades. So now with no name for the stadium I can tell you one thing, there is going to be a bidding war for the naming rights of the Pittsburgh Steelers stadium. Even though the Steelers are the 14th most valuable franchise in the league, they are also one of the most notable teams in the NFL. In fact, the Steelers and Patriots have the most Super Bowls won in franchise history and teams would absolutely want to get involved with a team in the NFL that has been one of the most historic franchises in the leagues history.
UPDATE: Well as this article was about to be posted the Steelers new stadium will be Acrisure Stadium.