Which Steelers rookies have the hardest and easiest paths to playing time?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces a pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces a pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Steelers did well in free agency adding depth at tight end, guard, and on the defensive line. Even with these additions, there are still holes for rookies to step in and contribute right away.

Easiest Paths

Chase Claypool

The Steelers coaching staff has come out and said the will be playing Chase Claypool on the outside. The biggest flaw in the Steelers receiving core has been the lack of an outside alpha receiver. This year they finally have that outside threat in Claypool that will allow Juju to slide inside and excel in his natural slot receiver role.

Mark Kaboly reported via twitter that Claypool has been in contact with Ben Roethlisberger through a group text. Clear signs of a connection that is starting early.

Kevin Dotson

Dotson will have competition for the initial starting role at left guard. Two-time Super Bowl champion Stefan Wisniewski will come ready to play. However, Dotson should come in and be that moving force the line is missing following the Ramon Foster departure. His All-American tape shows he is an NFL ready run blocker. There is work to be done in pass protection but Dotson has plenty of potential for growth.

This will allow the Steelers to have experienced depth ready to replace any holes that pop up on the interior. The shortened offseason training is likely to lead to small injuries when the season kicks off.

Hardest Paths

Carlos Davis

Davis is primarily a run-stopper coming from the Cornhuskers program in Lincoln, Nebraska. This prediction should come as no surprise to anyone since Davis is a 7th-round selection. Davis’ best trait is a quick burst off of the snap. That burst is paired with a not-so-good hand placement at the point of attack.

Davis will need to learn to handle larger blockers at the point of attack. He will need to get lower and work on hand placement. The Steelers defensive line has several playmakers that will require him to separate himself to gain regular reps.

Anthony McFarland

McFarland was the 124th pick in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He is coming in with high expectations and praise as a runner. That being said, waiting till the 4th round spelled out the fact that the Steelers are willing to bet on James Conner and Benny Snell in the upcoming season. If Benny Snell comes in 15 pounds lighter, he could eat up significant snaps.

It is easy to see McFarland getting chances on special teams before he gets important carries over Conner and Snell. This is a guy we should expect to work his way into playing time late in the season.

Trajan Bandy

Undrafted out of Miami, Bandy is Mike Hilton 2.0. He will be a new physical nickel presence, that will look to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Playing against teams without much time for them to prepare will be his time to make an impact.

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He is likely to work his way on the field through DB blitz subpackages and wreaking havoc on special teams.