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NFL Power Rankings: ESPN predicts the Steelers to remain middle-of-the-road

The latest ESPN Power Rankings look at each team’s long-term future, and they see the Steelers as a middle-of-the-road team.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers OTA Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are reporting to training camp Tuesday at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, the first time doing so since 2019. It is typically around this time when fans of every NFL team want to know where their team stands in the upcoming season. This is one of the reasons why rankings are so popular before camp begins.

But what about the future? What about after this year? What about those rankings? Well, leave it to ESPN to provide those future power rankings for all the fans out there. But before diving head-first into where everyone ranks, let’s take a look at how ESPN formulated these rankings:

To project which NFL franchises are in the best shape for the next three seasons (2022 through 2024), we asked our panel of experts — Jeremy Fowler, Louis Riddick, Seth Walder and Field Yates — to rate each team’s quarterback situation, remaining (non-QB) roster, drafting ability, front office and coaching using this scale:

100: A+ (Elite)

90: A (Great)

80: B (Very good)

70: C (Average)

60: D (Very bad)

50 and below: F (Disastrous)

After averaging the results from the panelists, each of the five categories was weighted to create the overall score: roster (30%), quarterback (20%), draft (15%), front office (15%) and coaching (20%). The result is a comprehensive ranking based on how well each team is positioned for the future. Our experts dove in on additional analysis for all 32 teams, hitting on biggest worries, stats to know and what could change in upcoming years, along with why each team landed where it did on the ranking.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the rankings and where the Steelers fell in these future power rankings:

The Top 10

1. Buffalo Bills
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Green Bay Packers
3. Los Angeles Rams
5. Los Angeles Chargers
6. Cincinnati Bengals
7. Baltimore Ravens
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Indianapolis Colts
10. Cleveland Browns
10. San Francisco 49ers
14. Pittsburgh Steelers
Score: 80.8

Why they’re here: When you have Mike Tomlin as your head coach, you are always going to receive the benefit of the doubt. The Steelers steer one of the steadiest ships, and Tomlin’s leadership is among the most critical aspects of the operation. Two notable retirements took place this offseason for Pittsburgh that will impact how this team fares going forward: long-time standout GM Kevin Colbert and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Be it Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett, the transition at quarterback will decide just how far this team can go in the next three seasons. — Yates

Biggest worry: It’s all about offensive coordinator Matt Canada and his ability to design, teach, develop, refine and evolve his offensive system and take advantage of the skills of his new QB room. Too often in 2021 it appeared as though he didn’t maximize what he was working with from a personnel perspective. The Steelers need to get that corrected going forward. — Riddick

What could change for the better: This offensive line still needs work. The Steelers addressed it this offseason by signing free agents James Daniels and Mason Cole. But the Big Ben-led Steelers were last great with high draft picks David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert protecting Roethlisberger. Most of the Steelers’ highest earners are on defense, so they are due to spend more on the other side. — Fowler

Stat to know: The Steelers had the fastest time to throw (2.40 seconds) and second-shortest air yards per target (6.6) in 2021. While they lost a future Hall of Famer in Roethlisberger, a new quarterback won’t restrict the offense to an ultra-quick, ultra-short passing game. — Walder

So, do you believe the Steelers are nothing more than a middle-of-the-road team in the future? Or do you feel ESPN got their ranking spot on? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes as they prepare for the start of training camp Tuesday.