3 Pittsburgh Steelers who are far more important than most fans realize

Alex Highsmith #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Alex Highsmith #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith (56). Mandatory credit: Caitlyn Epes-Pittsburgh Steelers/handout photo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers are trying to keep their Super Bowl open for one more year, but so much of their success depends on these three players in 2021. 

The Steelers have been in a ‘Super Bowl window’ for nearly two decades now. Though they have only made it to the Super Bowl three times during that span and have taken home two Lombardy Trophies, they haven’t had a losing record since before the team drafted Ben Roethlisberger.

Big Ben is far from the same player he used to be. Now pushing 40 years old and with an extensive injury history that includes major elbow surgery on his throwing arm, we can no longer expect as much out of Pittsburgh’s franchise quarterback. Still, the Steelers aren’t about to let this window close shut just yet. Roethlisberger took a pay cut to stick around in 2021 and Pittsburgh is going to give it one last go.

Because they endured so many losses this offseason, Pittsburgh is going to need all hands on deck if they are to have a legitimate chance at a title this season. Here are three Steelers players who are far more important to the team’s success this year than most fans realize:

EDGE Alex Highsmith

Quarterback is the most important position in football; we know that without a doubt. However, outside of quarterback, you could make a case that no other position on the Steelers matters as much as their edge defenders. This has been the case for quite some time now.

The Steelers success on defense revolves around the ability to generate fast pressure. This is exactly why they place such a high emphasis on the outside linebacker position. Since 2013, Pittsburgh has spent 3 first-round picks addressing the edge defender position, and only one of those three remains with the team.

After the departure of Bud Dupree this offseason, Alex Highsmith will carry a heavy burden in 2021, as the team essentially ignored adding depth to the position in free agency or the draft this year. Highsmith was quite impressive as a rookie, but so much depends on him staying healthy taking another step forward in 2021. If those things don’t happen, Pittsburgh’s defense could take a big hit.