The Steelers initial depth chart has been released. What information can fans extract from it? I would caution against having too many expectations.
So what can Steelers fans glean from the initial depth chart? Well, I guess the answer to that question depends on your perspective as it relates to a depth chart. If the initial depth chart was the final depth chart released prior to the first regular-season game, I would say that Steelers fans could glean a cornucopia of information from it.
For example, fans would know who are the starters, who are the primary backups and who made the team. Since the depth chart that was released is the initial depth chart, I personally would not put a whole lot of stock into it as it is just that…an initial, first run, if you will, depth chart.
Here’s why: Heading into the first pre-season game, a backup player needs to know that if the starter ahead of him is not going to play or if the starter suffers an in-game injury, he is on deck, so to speak. This is really no different from the regular season approach. Another way of looking at a depth chart has to do with motivation.
For example, Zach Gentry, our fifth-round pick out of Michigan, is listed as the FIFTH Tight End! He is currently behind Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Christian Scotland-Williamson, the former rugby player who did not play college football, and Kevin Rader, an undrafted free agent whom the Steelers signed to a Reserve/Futures contract earlier this year.
The reality for Gentry and for other players who are ‘buried’ at the bottom of the depth chart is that much can transpire between now and the regular-season opener, so all is not lost. As of right now, in Gentry’s case, he has a long row to hoe to even make the 53-man roster, if you put a lot of stock into the initial depth chart.
Although I stated that I am not putting a whole lot of stock into the initial depth chart, I am putting a whole lot of stock into the seeming lack of depth at both safety positions. At Free Safety, behind starter Sean Davis, the Steelers have listed Marcus Allen, whom we drafted in 2018, as the primary back-up, then Kameron Kelly, a free agent signing this year and P.J. Locke, an undrafted free agent.
At Strong Safety, behind starter Terrell Edmunds, the Steelers have listed Jordan Dangerfield, a solid back-up undrafted free agent, in my opinion, whom the Steelers signed in 2014, then Marcelis Branch, a free-agent whom the Steelers signed to a Reserve/Futures contract earlier this year and finally Dravon Askew-Henry, an undrafted free-agent signing this year.
Behind Davis and Edmunds, who are both young players, the Steelers have inexperienced back-ups. Unless we are planning to work cornerbacks into the safety mix, this group is thin; however, this is exactly what the pre-season represents: An opportunity for players to show the coaches what they are capable of doing and how they would respond to potentially being asked to play an unfamiliar position.
So that begs the following question:
If you view the initial depth chart in the same light as I view it, you will come to the conclusion that it will change over the course of the pre-season and will not be finalized until the Steelers prepare themselves for the regular-season opener against the Patriots. While there may be some tidbits of information that Steelers fans can glean from depth chart, I would offer this suggestion: Let’s just sit back, relax and enjoy the competition that will play itself out during the pre-season.