clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Steelers Mailbag: Which Steelers rookie will see the field the most in 2016?

New, comments

With the 2016 NFL Draft officially in the books, many fans have questions about the new players and their roles on the team next season. I do the best I can to break it down.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have completed their 2016 NFL Draft, as well as their rookie minicamp, and everyone wants to know about the latest crop of players to don the black and gold uniform. In our Mailbag feature, you ask the questions, and I do my best to answer them.

If you are wondering how to have your question answered in our Mailbag articles, simply follow us on Twitter (@btsteelcurtain) and when we ask for questions send them our way to have them featured in the story. Not all can be answered, but the best are selected each week.

Let's get to the questions...

From: Danny Lavin (@loud_pack_lavin)

Question: Is Sean Davis a starting safety going into the season?

Answer: That is a difficult question. The Steelers brought Robert Golden back  in free agency for a reason, but he is far from having his name etched in stone on the depth chart alongside Mike Mitchell. Davis has everything you want from an NFL safety, physically. No one is questioning his ability to cover, hit or even take the ball away, but the aspect of his game, along with every rookie regardless of position, is can they handle the mental aspect of the NFL game.

Playing at the professional level isn't even close to the top conferences in college. The game is more complex, the defenses more exotic and only the best of the best make it to this level. For that reason, I am going to say Davis does not enter the 2016 season as the starter, but I think he works his way into that spot by the end of the year.

There will be growing pains with Davis, Javon Hargrave and Artie Burns, but if they can prove they are capable, the organization should not think twice about inserting them into the lineup.

From: J.D. (@upjicecat)

Question: Where have all the Haley Haters gone?

Answer: I am really glad this question was asked. When Todd Haley was hired in Pittsburgh, his first two years were marred by scrutiny. I attended the Steelers vs. Bears game in 2013 and saw at least a dozen signs in my section, and neighboring sections, which just read "Fire Haley". I understood why they were upset. Most were still longing for Bruce Arians; however, you don't see many of those signs anymore.

In fact, most people have become Haley supporters, rather than Haley Haters -- and rightfully so.

Todd Haley has done a masterful job of not just incorporating his system into the Steelers offense, but putting in a system which maximizes the skill sets of those who play for him. He isn't asking Ben Roethlisberger to take a 5-step drop back every third down in an attempt to try and convert a first down. That isn't saying Roethlisberger isn't throwing deep anymore, we know he is, but he is certainly more calculated about the risks he takes.

Throw that on top with maximizing the potential and skill sets of players like Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, and Haley has done more than anyone ever expected in his time with Pittsburgh -- and that is a good thing.

From: Steel City Report (@Steel_Report)

Question: Thoughts on Javon Hargrave. Is he the most ready to start rookie at the beginning of the season? Anyone else on your list?

Answer: The most ready to start rookie is a tough label to put on someone. Hargrave certainly has the skill set, but can he adapt to the NFL as quick as everyone assumes he will? That might be easier said than done, even for a position like nose tackles/reserve defensive tackle. Hargrave will likely see some significant snaps on defense, but I doubt he will ever be considered a starter -- barring injury to Stephon Tuitt, Cameron Heyward or Daniel McCullers.

Other than Hargrave, the first two picks of Artie Burns and Sean Davis certainly have a chance to see significant reps. It has almost as much to do with the position they play than their individual skill sets. I personally think Davis will have the best chance to see the field, but that is my own personal opinion.

From: Same Beeghley (@sbeeghley)

Question: Is there a realistic chance the 7th RD draft pick from Temple Tyler Matakevich makes the team? I am a sucker for the underdogs

Answer: Matakevich absolutely has a chance to make the Steelers' roster, but he will have to prove himself both on special teams and defense to do so. He will likely have to beat out the likes of Jordan Zumwalt and L.J. Fort to ensure he isn't bounced around the practice squad, but the film on Matakevich certainly shows a player with the 'motor' and desire to play at the NFL level, even if his measurables might say otherwise.

I like him as a special teams ace, as well as a backup inside linebacker (think Terence Garvin's role on the team) as a rookie.