The Pittsburgh Steelers begin training camp in less than a week. After ending 2022 as winners of six of their final seven games, expectations are high in the Steel City.
The Steelers were busy this offseason, adding a hoard of talent in both free agency and the draft who will look to earn starting jobs throughout the next several weeks. With that in mind, Steelers fans should keep an eye on these three position battles throughout camp and preseason.
Left tackle: Dan Moore Jr. vs. Broderick Jones
The Steelers traded up with the New England Patriots to select the Georgia Bulldogs left tackle with the 14th overall pick in the NFL Draft, and they wouldn’t have done that if they were impressed with Dan Moore.
Moore struggled in both run and pass protection in 2022, allowing 39 pressures and seven sacks and was penalized 10 times. The former Texas A&M Aggie’s struggles affected how the Steelers attacked the ground game as well, as they were 24th in the league in runs to the left. Overall, Moore earned a 62.4 grade from PFF, including a 67.3 grade in pass protection and a measly 56.1 grade in run protection.
With Broderick Jones, his athleticism is what stands out, especially when it comes to getting to the next level to clear running lanes downfield. His ability to both keep the pocket clean and open up gaps in the run game makes him the clear-cut favorite to win the job.
The final wide receiver spot
I’d say there are four receivers that have a roster spot locked up: Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Allen Robinson, and Calvin Austin III. A fifth spot could very well be taken up by Miles Boykin for his talent on special teams.
With the Steelers all but certainly keeping six receivers, that leaves one spot for Hakeem Butler, Gunner Olszewski, and Cody White to compete over. There are other receivers currently on the roster, including Jordan Byrd, Dez Fitzpatrick, Ja’Marcuss Bradley, and Dan Chisnea, but they are more camp bodies than threats to be one of the final 53.
Olszewski’s roster spot will be earned in the return game. However, if second-year receiver Calvin Austin III also performs well in the return game, Olszewski could be on the outside looking in when it comes to final roster cuts. Cody White has been around for the past two years, including dressing for 15 games in 2021. He has yet to make any real splash, and with Hakeem Butler being in camp after a standout season in the XFL, he could leapfrog White.
With plenty of depth, this group of receivers will be fun to watch in camp and preseason.
The Steelers don’t have a proven commodity at the nickel spot. Chandon Sullivan was the Vikings' nickel corner in 2022, taking 886 snaps from the nickel spot, though his role was better served as extra run support from the slot. PFF gave him a 67.4 grade as a run defender and a 71.1 grade in pass rush, while only netting a 53.2 grade in coverage.
There is a possibility Patrick Peterson shifts inside, but it’s not something he’s done much of in his career. Duke Dawson is a name to watch, as well.
This is going to be the position battle that is the most open for the Steelers. If Dawson outplays Sullivan in camp and preseason, he will win the job and vice versa. If Steelers fans want a battle to watch, it’ll be this one.