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Which second year Steelers are set to take the next step?

Second year Steelers historically take on a heavier load, who will shoulder that burden most in 2021?

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team undergoing a slight transition. With a rebuilt offensive line, and new offensive system it is pretty fair to think the team will take on a new identity in 2021. Playing a key role in this transition will be members of the Steelers 2020 draft class. In year two Steelers players tend to get more responsibility added to their plates and have ‘break out’ type years. This year with so many changes these new roles will be further expanded.

Below are a number of guys I foresee having a much bigger role in 2021 and the likelihood is of them exceeding expectations.

Editor’s Note: This list is in no particular order.

Chase Claypool

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Steelers rookie breakout star, Chase Claypool is in line for a monster 2021 season. The Notre Dame product should see his role diversify and chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger strengthen. I predict he will become the true number one target in the receiving game, and shatter the 1,000 yard plateau. 2021 will be the year of Claypool.

Alex Highsmith

NFL: DEC 02 Ravens at Steelers Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The man tasked with filling Bud Dupree’s shoes, Alex Highsmith has earned the right to take over as the team’s unquestioned outside linebacker. Playing opposite of T.J. Watt, and beside that nasty defensive line, Highsmith will have a shot at the double digit sack mark especially because rushing the passer is his forte.

Kevin Dotson

Pittsburgh Steelers v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Kevin Dotson could very well be the Steelers top offensive lineman in 2021. He’s an absolute mauler, but sneakily picked up outstanding pass blocking grades a year ago. Najee Harris will have a fun time running behind Dotson. This kid is the exclamation point on a strong 2020 draft that didn't even feature a first round pick.

James Pierre

NFL: NOV 22 Steelers at Jaguars Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The underrated find of the 2020 offseason. Pierre passed a number of established Steelers on the depth chart and looked really good in limited playing time last year. I foresee a ton of playing time for him in sub-packages. The Steelers might have found a diamond in the rough with this kid.

Anthony McFarland Jr.

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Anthony McFarland should win the Steelers’ backup running back job. His skillset is the perfect compliment to spell Najee Harris every now and then. With blazing speed, if McFarland can get his vision under control he will find great success as a third down back and primary backup.

But what do you think? Is there anybody I missed? Which second year Steeler will take the biggest step forward in 2021? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.