Pittsburgh Steelers Depth Chart 2021: Predicting Week 1 Starters
The Pittsburgh Steelers won the AFC North in 2020 with a 12-4 record. While this looks like a successful season, the Steelers would think otherwise. After an impressive 11-0 start, the Pittsburgh Steelers collapsed in their last five games of the season, losing in the Wild Card round to division rivals Cleveland Browns.
Their running game disappeared as their wide receivers began to pass more than they caught. The Steelers have been drafted with offense in mind as they look forward to a better campaign in 2021.
2021 Pittsburgh Steelers Depth Table
Here’s what the Pittsburgh Steelers depth graph should look like at the start of Week 1:
Strategist: Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Josh Dobbs, Dwayne Haskins.
Return: Najee Harris, Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland Jr., Jaylen Samuels.
Wide receiver: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Dionate Johnson, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud.
Tight end: Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry.
Back: Derek Watt.
Center: JC Hassenauer, BJ Finney, Kendrick Green.
Left guard: Kevin Dotson.
Right guard: David DeCastro.
Left tackle: Chaukwuma Okorafor.
Right tackle: Zach Banner, Joe Haeg.
Linebacker: Vince Williams, TJ Watt, Devin Bush, Alex Hughsmith, Robert Spillane.
Defensive line: Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu,
Corner: Joe Haden, Cam Sutton, Justin Layne.
Free security: Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Strong security: Terrell Edmunds.
Kicker: Chris Boswell.
Borrow: Jordan Berry, Pressley Harvin III.
Long Snapper: Kameron Canaday.
Kick / Punt Returner: Ray-Ray McCloud.
Analysis of the Pittsburgh Steelers depth graph
Strategist: Ben Roethlisberger has signed a new contract this offseason and all signs point to 2021 possibly being his last season. Roethlisberger will again have Mason Rudolph as a replacement.
Rudolph has proven to be reliable, but it remains to be seen if he will get the starting position in the future. Josh Dobbs and Dwayne Haskins, who signed this winter, will complete the quarterback room.
Return: After the Pittsburgh Steelers finished last in the 2020 running game, they drafted Najee Harris out of Alabama in the first round. There’s a lot of promise surrounding Harris, who should brighten up the Steelers’ running game and be present in the backfield. Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland will be additional racing options. Jaylen Samuels is also a versatile player, finding time in special teams and on offense.
Wide receiver: JuJu Smith-Schuster is back on a one-year contract and will likely be the number one receiver. Chase Claypool, entering his sophomore year, is expected to get as many reps as last year, if not more.
Dionate Johnson needs a rebound a year after struggling last season with lost assists. James Washington, although fourth on the depth chart, has been a reliable asset for Roethlisberger at depth on the field.
Tight end: Vance McDonald retired after the 2020 season, leaving Eric Ebron as the only tight rookie. With Ebron more of a receiver than a tackle, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Pat Freiermuth out of Penn State. Freiermuth is a duel threat as a blocker and receiver. Zach Gentry is the third option on the tight end.
Back: Derek Watt is the only full-back and is also an integral part of the Pittsburgh Steelers special teams team.
Center: Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion Maurkice Pouncey have retired this offseason, leaving a veteran hole on the line and offense as a whole. JC. Hassenauer and BJ. Finney are both capable of playing center, but the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Kendrick Green with an eye on the future.
Kevin Dotson, who has had an impressive rookie season in 2020, will be back in left guard, and veteran David DeCastro will likely be in right guard. Zach Banner will return to right tackle after a knee injury that shortened his 2020 season, while Chukwuma Okorafor will play against left tackle. Finney is also a versatile lineman and could be a replacement like Joe Haeg.
Defensive end: Defensive end Stephon Tuitt is back for his seventh season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2020, Tutt had ten sacks, a career high.
Defensive line: Cam Heyward and Tyson Alualu will lead the Steelers line in 2021. Isaiah Buggs and Chris Wormley are also death options in the defensive line.
Linebacker: TJ Watt, who was snubbed for the ‘Defensive Player of the Year’ award last season, will have Devin Bush and Vince Williams back in 2021. Robert Spillane and Alex Highsmith, who both received plenty of time of play last season due to injuries, will also be options at linebacker.
Security: Minkah Fitzpatrick will start free security, while Terell Edmunds is strong security. With Cam Sutton back with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he could be a versatile part of the defense as he can play both safe and for corners.
Corner: Joe Haden is in the left corner, while the right corner remains up for grabs. Justin Layne could be the lock, but he’ll likely have competition from James Pierre, Arthur Maulet and undrafted rookie Shakur Brown. Cam Sutton could also move, depending on the team’s defensive scheme; it could also take a turn.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Chris Boswell will likely return to duty for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. The situation in the boat is however interesting.
Jordan Berry has been the kicker for the past few seasons, but in the seventh round, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Georgia Tech’s Pressley Harvin III. Having a punting competition is intriguing, so only time will tell.
Kameron Canaday is expected to be the long snapper once again, and Ray-Ray McCloud, an efficient punt and punt returner last season, will take over.