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Grading the Steelers current depth at each position group on defense

With the Steelers finishing up mandatory minicamp this week, where do they stand with their depth on offense?

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

The 2021 NFL offseason is beginning to wind down. Once the Steelers have completed mandatory minicamp this week, they now have just over a month off before training camp begins, hopefully at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. While the Steelers could continue to make roster moves during the next several weeks of downtime, there is just as much chance they will enter training camp with the same 90 men as they finished minicamp.

With the players the Steelers currently have on the roster, how is the depth at each position perceived? This is the question which will be answered by BTSC co-editors Dave Schofield and Jeff Hartman as they give their grades for the depth at each defensive position.


Defensive Line

Dave’s Grade: A

Analysis: The Steelers have the best defensive line in the NFL, and they have so many players it will be tough to decide who to keep. Of course there is a drop off with the reserves, but that’s to be expected. But having a nose tackle in Tyson Alualu who can also fill in at defensive tackle in sub packages really helps.

Jeff’s Grade: A+

Analysis: I don’t give away A+ often, but if there is a position which deserves it on the Steelers’ roster it is the defensive line. Between Cam Heyward, Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt, you would be hard pressed to find a better 3-4 defensive front in the NFL. Throw in Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Isaiah Buggs and Isaiahh Loudermilk as depth and this group is stellar from top to bottom.

Poll

What grade do you give the Steelers’ current defensive line depth?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    A
    (972 votes)
  • 11%
    B
    (132 votes)
  • 1%
    C
    (17 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (1 vote)
1127 votes total Vote Now

Outside Linebacker

Dave’s Grade: F

Analysis: I had to do it. Although I have a lot of hope for Quincy Roche, banking on having a sixth-round draft pick be your first “next man up” to start the season isn’t advised. Add in the fact this is a position where the reserves see the field, it’s even more concerning.

Jeff’s Grade: D

Analysis: I could have followed Dave’s lead and gone with an F grade, but I am banking on the Steelers adding to this position at some point before the start of the season. If they head into 2021 with Quincy Roche and Cassius Marsh as their only depth, this grade would move to an F-.

Poll

What grade do you give the Steelers’ current outside linebacker depth?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    A
    (24 votes)
  • 8%
    B
    (95 votes)
  • 35%
    C
    (373 votes)
  • 38%
    D
    (406 votes)
  • 14%
    F
    (158 votes)
1056 votes total Vote Now

Inside Linebacker

Dave’s Grade: B+

Analysis: Although it wouldn’t have been shocking for the Steelers to spend a high draft pick at inside linebacker just to improve the position overall, they have plenty of players there. They, in essence, have three starters for two positions and a fourth-round draft pick hoping to show what he can do. Throw in several safeties-turned-linebackers as well as a somewhat promising 2019 draft pick who can’t stay healthy in UG3, there are a lot of options.

Jeff’s Grade: A-

Analysis: The Steelers’ inside linebacker depth went from horrible in 2020 without Devin Bush, to outstanding in 2021. With Robert Spillane, Vince Williams, Ulysess Gilbert III and Buddy Johnson now in the mix, this group is as deep as ever. Spillane proved himself as quality depth in 2020, and that will be huge dividends in 2021. If Johnson can be a good depth piece, this would easily turn into a solid A.

Poll

What grade do you give the Steelers’ current inside linebacker depth?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    A
    (439 votes)
  • 48%
    B
    (476 votes)
  • 6%
    C
    (62 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (2 votes)
985 votes total Vote Now

Cornerback

Dave’s Grade: B

Analysis: While some people feel the Steelers need another cornerback, I think the ones they have show a lot of promise with what they have. I think James Pierre is going to be the next Mike Hilton. The Steelers have Justin Layne who could help out in a pinch, and they have a lot of promising rookies where they only need one of them to pan out.

Jeff’s Grade: C+

Analysis: A lot of unproven depth in the Steelers’ cornerback room. Joe Haden is a known commodity, as is Cam Sutton, but behind that nothing is certain. James Pierre is the talk of the town, but still very unproven. Justin Layne hasn’t lived up to the hype of a mid round pick, and beyond that we are talking about players who are hopefully contributors. I’m not unhappy with the depth, it just is unproven.

Poll

What grade do you give the Steelers’ current cornerback depth?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    A
    (27 votes)
  • 35%
    B
    (331 votes)
  • 52%
    C
    (499 votes)
  • 8%
    D
    (83 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (5 votes)
945 votes total Vote Now

Safety

Dave’s Grade: C

Analysis: I had no idea where to go here. Behind the two starters, there’s a lot of guys who seem to be more sub-package players than ones who could come in and hold down a starting job if needed. I still don’t even know where to put Miles Killebrew when it comes to a position group, but he could help with depth here if the Steelers take him out of the linebackers and put him in the secondary.

Jeff’s Grade: B

Analysis: A lot of this grade depends on how the Steelers plan on using players like Miles Killebrew, Marcus Allen and Antoine Brooks Jr. If they are going to use these players as traditional safeties, I think the team’s safety depth will be just fine. If they are looking at those players being just box safeties, I am suddenly not as happy with the depth on the roster. If the team doesn’t feel their safety depth is up to snuff, someone like Jordan Dangerfield is still on the open market.

Poll

What grade do you give the Steelers’ current safety depth?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    A
    (46 votes)
  • 43%
    B
    (397 votes)
  • 41%
    C
    (377 votes)
  • 8%
    D
    (76 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (11 votes)
907 votes total Vote Now

So there are our grades for the Steelers current depth at the various defensive positions. We will revisit this exercise once the Steelers have established their 53-man roster for the 2021 season. Additionally, check out the grades for the depth at the various offensive position groups.