I’ve talked at length about the Steelers depth on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, but there is a third phase of the game which hasn't gotten much attention at all this offseason — special teams!
Before you click away about a topic on special teams, I should remind you the only team in NFL history that had both the number 1 offense AND defense was the 2010 San Diego Chargers whose special teams ranked dead last in the league, they missed the playoffs. Long story short, this matters!
The Pittsburgh Steelers didn't just improve their kickers either, they added a ton of coverage players that will be crucial in pinning teams deep whenever they're on the field. This article will be split up into two sections to look at the core special teams players and the coverage guys themselves, both of which has the potential to be some of the best in the league.
Kicker: Chris Boswell
Punter: Pressley Harvin III
Long Snapper: Kam Canaday
Kick Returner: Ray Ray McCloud & Anthony McFarland
Punt Returner: Ray Ray McCloud & Diontae Johnson
The Steelers are returning virtually the entirety of this group. The one spot the Steelers will replace is the punter, with rookie Pressley Harvin III. The rookie would have led or been near the top of NFL punting stats if you lumped in his college stats from 2020 with current NFL punters. On top of that, he's still so young and improved every season I anticipate Harvin to explode onto the scene.
After a terrible 2019 season, Chris Boswell has reclaimed his status as one of the NFL’s best kickers. He’s accurate, has a fairly big leg, and he’s clutch. There's nothing more you would want from a kicker.
Ray-Ray McCloud was one of the breakout stars of the 2020 season. It’s almost more mind boggling he didn't take a kick to the house all year, but he was close on no less than six occasions. Backing him up will be the former second team All-pro punt returner Diontae Johnson you won't find a better duo anywhere else in the league.
Also Kam Canaday doesn't screw up so...perfect!
Ace: Derek Watt
Ace: Miles Killebrew
Gunner: Justin Layne
Gunner: James Pierre
Gunner: Arthur Maulet
Contributor: Robert Spillane
Contributor: Cassius Marsh
Contributor: Buddy Johnson
Contributor: Quincy Roche
Seriously, look at the list of names above and tell me this group won't dominate, you can’t. Watt and Killebrew are two of the highest volume tacklers on special teams across the NFL the past few seasons. On top of that the high end linebacker talent which will make up the second wave are punishing hitters and will make returners’ lives miserable.
What do you think? Will the Steelers have the best special teams in the NFL this year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!