It has been 18 years since Steelers Training Camp began with anything more than a feeling of formality at the game’s most important position. Ben Roethlisberger’s success as the starting quarterback (QB) in Pittsburgh is now the stuff of legend, and the team enters the 2022 season with more uncertainty than they have experienced in those almost two decades.
Despite earning much of the press on the matter, Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, and Kenny Pickett are not the only players on this roster looking to make their mark and cement their status as the Steelers’ best option at their position.n this roster looking to make their mark and cement their status as the Steelers’ best option at their position.e
This exercise will attempt to predict the outcomes of the significant position battles that are being fought at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. The Steelers have a lot of talent, and each player will have to earn every rep. Let’s take a look at how things could play out.
Contenders: Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, Kenny Pickett
Analysis: We all know how they got here, and we all have an opinion on who the guy should be. But who will actually step up and take the reigns to begin the season is anybody’s guess at this point. Trubisky brings the most experience, the highest pedigree, and likely represents the team’s best chance to be competitive at the outset. However, the Steelers didn’t spend a 1st Round Draft Pick on the talented, athletic Kenny Pickett for him to be a long-term backup. The Wildcard is Rudolph, who has spent the last 4 years with the team, earning spot-starts for Roethlisberger when he was unavailable, and, most importantly, possessing an advantageous head-start in the Matt Canada offensive system.
Prediction: Mitch Trubisky shows why he was the 2nd overall pick in 2017 and rides his resurgent confidence and athleticism to cement his status as QB1 for Week 1 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. Pickett earns the QB2 role as Rudolph’s future with the team is cloudy.
Contenders: Kevin Dotson, Kendrick Green
Analysis: The Steelers have made if fairly clear that Free Agent acquisition Mason Cole is the team’s top option at center, likely shifting Green, the 2021 Rookie starter at center, to Left Guard where he will compete with a polarizing player in Kevin Dotson. Dotson has all the tools to be, and has shown significant flashes as an elite option along the interior offensive line (OL). However, questions about Dotson’s conditioning and mental fortitude hover ominously, potentially opening the door for the athletic but undersized Green to make a run at the starting gig. Green will need to shake off the ghosts of a 2021 season that saw him thrown into the fire too quickly and make a significant rebound to earn the job.
Prediction: Kevin Dotson shows out in camp, returning to the form that gave Steelers fans high hopes that he would be the next great Steelers lineman. Green operates as the “Swing” guard/center, who can fill in at all three positions along the interior.
WIDE RECEIVER 2
Contenders: Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Calvin Austin III
Analysis: Claypool is coming off a disappointing season from the perspective that he didn’t really take the next step as a potentially dominant player on the perimeter. He has all the tools to be great, but didn’t quite put it together in year 2. Meanwhile, the Steelers wasted little time in drafting the most physically gifted WR in the 2022 class in George Pickens, who brings elite body control and all-round ability to the room. Then there’s 2022 4th Round Pick Calvin Austin III, whose elite speed and versatility are bound to excite the creative Matt Canada.
Prediction: Claypool shows he’s ready to make the leap as a dominant force and edges out the Rookies for the WR2 role. Pickens athleticism in practices and preseason games excites Steelers Nation, but ultimately he can’t overtake Claypool out of camp. Austin proves to be a valuable role player as the team’s WR4.
RUNNING BACK 2
Contenders: Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, Jeremy McNichols
Analysis: Both Snell and McFarland are likely on their last chances to prove they can be valuable assets behind Najee Harris. This is especially true with the Steelers bringing in Jeremy McNichols the day the team reported to camp. McNichols is a proven RB2 who excels in the 3rd-Down role. He might be the front runner already to be Najee’s primary backup. For Snell, it will all come down to whether or not he can improve his lackluster vision and elusiveness. His production so far has been definitively unsatisfactory. For McFarland, injuries have stunted his obvious explosiveness. He has a chance to be a difference maker in this backfield if he can put it all together.
Prediction: Jeremy McNichols earns the title of RB2 and handles the majority of relief work, while McFarland brings value as the change of pace back. Benny Snell likely takes a backseat to these two players, and may also find himself looking for work in a couple weeks.
The 2022 Steelers will rely heavily on the players above to elevate their games and be consistent, valuable contributors to this offense. It will be interesting to watch as these young men give their everything to earn their stripes as members of the Pittsburgh Steelers. No matter the outcome of each position battle, the key is that the best players are put in place to set the team up for success. Go Steelers!