The Pittsburgh Steelers are poised to make a run at next years Super Bowl.  In order to make that happen, there are a five players on the roster who must take a big leap in 2017.  Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Bud Dupree OLB – We saw flashes of it in the second half of 2016.  Bud Dupree had his moments where he looked like the dominant pass rusher this team so badly needs.  For the Steelers to make a serious run at a championship, they will need Dupree to fulfill his potential.  Dupree has worked with pass rushing guru Chuck Smith during the offseason.  Smith is known for working  with several NFl edge rushers, including superstar Von Miller.  Word out of Smith’s training facility is that Dupree is on the verge of something big.  If that’s the case, it would go a long way in curing this team’s defensive issues.
  2. Senquez Golson C – What, if anything, can be expected from this former second round pick after missing two full seasons?  Well, a healthy Golson would be a big boost to a group of corner backs with lots of question marks.  If the Steelers really do intend to play more man coverage this upcoming season, they will need contributions from Golson and rookie Cam Sutton.  Man coverage is not really a strength of Ross Cockrell or William Gay.  On the other hand, it’s a good fit for Golson’s game.  It may seem like a long shot, but an upright Senquez Golson is easily the second best corner on the roster behind Artie Burns.
  3. Martavis Bryant WR – We all got a pretty good look at what the passing game was like without Bryant around last season, and it wasn’t pretty.  He’s simply a game changer whose talents can not be replicated by anyone else on the roster.  Opposing defenses will not be able to crowd the box to stop Le’veon Bell, and they have a much tougher time double teaming Antonio Brown.  All this should result in the kind of explosive offense we got to see at times in 2015.
  4. Vince Williams – ILB – It’s been a long time since the Pittsburgh Steelers began a season without Lawrence Timmons at inside linebacker.  Vince Williams is the player the team has chosen to take his place, or at least the fallback player when they were unable to sign Donta Hightower away from the Patriots.  Williams will really need to play better than he has ever done in the past to fill the shoes of Timmons.
  5. Jesse James TE – He’s a player who wouldn’t have even been considered for this list a few short weeks ago.  A lot has changed though in that time.  Now that the Ladarius Green era is over, James becomes an important part in the success of the offense.  The Steelers need a threat in the middle of the field to offset their speed on the outside.  While James will never be the open field threat that Green was, he has shown to have good hands and is a much better blocker.  Pittsburgh has plenty of talent at other positions on offense, all they need from James is to occupy the center of the field and make the plays that come to him.  This could end up being a sort of breakout year for the underrated tight end.