Out of the Pittsburgh Steelers eight draft picks, there may be one or two that don’t have an impact on this team in 2017.
For starters, T.J. Watt will easily have the strongest contribution to this team during his rookie season. The first round pick is already making noise during his offseason workouts and is expected to be one of the strongest additions to this team in 2017.
Don’t be surprised if Watt starts pulling off Rookie of the Year stats, and becomes the best edge rusher in Pittsburgh during his rookie campaign. Seeing what the 22-year-old has already shown during OTAs and minicamp, the expectations for this guy are endless, and he’s yet to see the field.
Then, there’s the other prominent name in Colin Holba. Maybe a sixth round long snapper isn’t the most exciting thing happening in the Steel City, but it’s certain he’s the new man for the job.
After parting ways with long-time snapper, Greg Warren, Pittsburgh ultimately handed Holba the job. Now, it’s up to him to make his time in Pittsburgh memorable and as quiet as possible. The less noise a long snapper makes, the better he’s doing his job.
From here, you look at players like James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Both rookies should make the mark on this offense in 2017, primarily as backups. While Conner could be looking at fewer reps behind Le’Veon Bell than Smith is behind Eli Rogers, he’ll still be used a lot in short yardage and goal line situations.
Whenever Pittsburgh needs that bulky back, Conner is going to get the call. As long as he continues to shine throughout the season, there’ll be no reason not to give him, even more, rushes and keep Bell on the sidelines to prevent injury.
Smith-Schuster is going to enter one of the toughest position battles of the offseason when training camp starts. The wideout is competing with Eli Rogers for the slot receiver role, and could very easily take over the job in his first year.
Either way, Smith-Schuster is going to get a lot of playing time. With his tall frame and incredible hands, Ben Roethlisberger is going to fall in love with him. Whether he works from the outside or in the slot, he should expect a lot of balls thrown his way, especially in the redzone.
Then, there’s the defense. Cameron Sutton could quickly become the most impressive rookie outside of T.J. Watt in 2017. The cornerback is likely going to get the starting role at nickel and has already started to show off his talent this summer.
Expectations are high for him in his first year. He’s competed with some of the best college athletes in the world in the SEC, and now, he’s going to battle against a whole new level of talent. If he shows he can handle his own early in the season, he’ll be one of the biggest contributors in turning this secondary around from a horrid 2016.
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Brian Allen and Keion Adams are still unknown in most eyes. They could very well be impact players in 2017, or they could both end up on the practice squad. Right now, it’s uncertain which way the table will turn for them, and late round picks.
Either way, though, they have a lot of potential, and Pittsburgh sees that. If they don’t make the cut this year, everyone should expect them to be on the active roster in 2018. As long as they continue to develop, they could very well be two breakout candidates in just their sophomore season.
Josh Dobbs has the biggest future role in Pittsburgh, but right now, he’s still competing for the backup quarterback. As long as Big Ben is still around, his role is minimal, but even more significant as any rookie on the roster.
As the future quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dobbs needs to learn everything he can while Roethlisberger is still around. He isn’t ready to take over a Super Bowl contending team just yet, which means he has to use every second he has to develop into someone who is ready.
Maybe being the second or third string quarterback isn’t too appealing, but what Dobbs’ future holds is more significant than the seven other draft picks combined. Without him developing into a leader and a star, this team isn’t going to get very far after Big Ben calls it quits.
The Steelers may have too much talent to use all eight draft picks correctly in 2017. That won’t stop them from finding roles for each one, though.
Rookies don’t win you Super Bowls, but that isn’t going to stop the Pittsburgh Steelers from using their eight any way they can.