The Pittsburgh Steelers have a solid roster heading into the 2016 season. Are their holes? Are their weaknesses? Sure, but every NFL team has those same issues as they approach another 16-game regular season schedule. However, if the Steelers depth charts were to be compared to the rest of the NFL, where would they rank?
Luckily for us, Pro Football Focus did just that in a recent article, but their findings might surprise some of the faithful who represent the black and gold all year long.
In fact, among the 32 NFL teams, the Steelers ranked 4th in terms of most roster talent, and the current state of the 2016 Steelers will be enough to have fans who aren't happy being a top tier roster. Take a look at what PFF, via ESPN Insider, had to say about the ranking.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
Top five players: WR Antonio Brown, QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le'Veon Bell, LB James Harrison, DE Cameron Heyward
Starters who should be upgraded: OT Alejandro Villanueva, CB William Gay, S Robert Golden, LB Bud Dupree
Even without wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who is suspended indefinitely, the Steelers have one of the most talent-rich offenses in the NFL. In Roethlisberger, Brown and Bell, they have the best "triplets" in the league. The offensive line is a pretty good unit, too, with only one question mark: left tackle. The only thing that slowed down Brown last season was Roethlisberger missing from the lineup -- he was virtually uncoverable otherwise.
On defense the Steelers actually unearthed some talent, even in the secondary, but it just took most of the season to find it. Replacing the underperforming members of the secondary should help immediately. The defensive front has some impressive talent, too, with timeless Harrison still among the better outside linebackers in the league. Harrison notched 45 total pressures in 2015 and was by far the best of the Steelers' edge players, showing up first-round draft picks Dupree and Jarvis Jones.
For those who live in reality, the assessment of the Steelers roster is spot-on. Pittsburgh's offense remains one of the best in the league, even without Martavis Bryant. The thoughts on the defense were surprisingly positive, and rightfully so. It was good to see the Steelers' defensive front get some credit as Cameron Heyward has been nothing short of a Pro Bowl player the past two seasons.
In the offseason these stories are great fodder for fans, keeping them interested in the slow months, but the true challenge for the Steelers in 2016 will be taking this talented roster of players and having them succeed on the field. After 2015, the biggest factor in achieving such a goal could possibly be the team staying healthy. Most believe if Antonio Brown, Maurkice Pouncey, Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams weren't all missing from the lineup in the AFC Divisional game against the Denver Broncos last year, the Steelers would have been on their way to New England in the AFC Championship game.
The sky is the limit for this Steelers team, and it is time for them to finally put that on display in 2016.