We are just weeks away from the start of training camp. While most of the starting positions are set, there are still a select few up for grabs. Here’s our list of the top five Steelers position battles still to be worked out this offseason:
1. Left Tackle – Dan Moore vs Broderick Jones:
When you draft a player in the top fifteen, the thought is that player should start right away in the today’s NFL. In this case however we may have to pump the brakes a bit. Broderick Jones is fighting an uphill battler to win the Steelers left tackle spot. First off, he is in a battle with incumbent starter Dan Moore Jr. While Moore did have his struggles last season, he was in fact a plus run blocker last season.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, Jones needs to adapt to the Pat Meyer system. Several veteran players struggled to adapt to Meyer’s philosophy last season. James Daniels immediately comes to mind. He looked painfully out of place early in training camp, before finally getting a handle on things by early in the season.
So combining Broderick Jones’ overall inexperience with Pat Meyer’s complicated system, it would not shock us at all if he were to start the season as the backup. Steelers fans will have to be patient with their first round pick in 2023.
2. Slot corner – Chandon Sullivan vs Patrick Peterson vs the field
To be quite honest, nobody is quite sure what the plan is at slot corner. As we stand today, Chandon Sullivan is the only player on the roster with any sustained experience at the position. He is however coming off a pretty bad season in Minnesota.
Many have speculated that newly acquired Patrick Peterson may end up with the majority of the snaps as this team’s slot corner. Keep in mind Peterson has zero experience at the position. Since the day he was signed, the team has lauded Peterson’s flexibility in terms of where he can play. That ability will be put to the test if he indeed becomes the starting slot corner.
There is still the very real possibility of a player from the outside yet to be signed to come in and rescue this position. Slot corner is the spot that is the most up in the air as we head into training camp.
We went into great detail about this subject on the Steelers Sanctuary Podcast here:https://www.buzzsprout.com/1981237/12976278
3. Slot receiver – Allen Robinson vs Calvin Austin
It seems like Allen Robinson is the odds on favorite to win the starting slot receiver job for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s a veteran player who is a Mike Tomlin favorite. Robinson fits the mold of what this team wants to be on offense. A bigger receiver who has the ability to block in the Steelers run heavy scheme.
What Calvin Austin has that no one else on the roster does however is game breaking speed. He is one of a short list of players on offense who could actually keep opposing defenses honest. The key for Austin is staying healthy. If he does, he could give Allen Robinson a real run for the starting job.
One other dark horse to keep an eye on is Hakeem Butler. He combines the size the Steelers covet, with some added speed the team needs. If he can overcome the stigma of having some questionable hands, Butler could actually surpass both. This is a position that will be exciting to keep an eye on as the offseason progresses.
4. Inside linebacker – Elandon Roberts vs Mark Robinson
The Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker position is the thinnest by far on the entire roster. Cole Holcomb has to be a starter at the mack due to the fact there is simply no one else with a sliver of coverage ability on the team.
The buck linebacker will come down to a battle between OTA darling Mark Robinson, and free agent acquisition Elandon Roberts. Roberts is a solid veteran coming off a decent season in 2022. He would have to be the betting favorite as we head into training camp. Robinson had been making some noise in OTAs however. He will have an uphill climb due to his lack of experience. Having played the position only one season in college, and only a handful of snaps last season doesn’t bode well to win a starting spot. There have been enough flashes however that make us think there is a true battle here.
5. Punter – Pressley Harvin vs Braden Mann
There are no more excuses for Pressley Harvin III in 2023. He’s been given a pretty big pass on this team due to being drafted, and the tragic death of his father in 2021. His inconsistency will no longer be accepted by this team as evidenced by the acquisition of Braden Mann. For the first time since he was drafted in 2021, this is a full out battle for the Steelers punting job.