With the Steelers season just around the corner, here are four starters that are likely facing make-or-break seasons in 2022.
The NFL is a different game for everyone. Some players enter the league and dominate instantly; others need a few seasons to develop; while some never get to make an impact. The Steelers are fine will allowing players time to develop, but eventually, a player either gets it or the team is forced to move on.
Looking at the roster right now, there are a few players that stick out as ones in this limbo. While each of these players could catch fire and cement themselves as capable starters, the bus could also leave without them. 2022 will be critical, to say the least. Here are four Steelers facing a make-or-break season.
Green has to improve
One of the biggest disappointments from last year’s draft class has to be Kendrick Green. The then third-round pick was put into a bad situation as an undersized college guard being counted on to replace Maurkice Pouncey. It didn’t go well, and after a rookie season marred with inconsistencies, the Steelers seem poised to go a different way at center.
This doesn’t spell the end for Green necessarily, as the team has committed to him going back to his more natural guard spot. The issue is that his technique and size are still a negative against him. That was on display during the first preseason game as he was routinely beat on plays.
At this point, it seems safe to say that Green won’t be starting at guard this season. Heck, there is a chance he doesn’t even make the final roster at this rate. If he can’t at least develop into a capable and versatile reserve, his tenure in the NFL will be short. Things aren’t looking good for Green, and he needs to get his career back on track.
Claypool needs to grow from his slump
Chase Claypool is essentially the opposite of what Green has been. Drafted with the understanding that he may need some time to develop, Claypool burst onto the scene for the Steelers as a rookie. He was a threat from all over the field and quickly became a weapon for this offense. Expectations were sky-high for his second season.
He didn’t live up to them, unfortunately, as inconsistencies and immaturities plagued him all year. While he did seem to grow up a little by the season’s end, his stats regressed from his great rookie season. While he hasn’t lost a starting job, his role could quickly diminish on this team as it stands.
With George Pickens shining in camp, Claypool has to hold his own this season. If not, he could quickly become a third option for a team that may not pass as much as it has in years past. Sure, another bad season won’t effectively end his career, but it may force him to become a supporting character as opposed to a star like he seemed to be during his first season.
This is Trubisky’s last chance
There was a lot of excitement with the Steelers when they announced that they had signed Mitchell Trubisky to a contract on the first day of free agency. With the team in need of a new quarterback, Trubisky quickly earned the support and optimism of the team and the fans. Even with Kenny Pickett drafted in the first round, Trubisky still has some adamant fans.
His career in Chicago never panned out, but he earned high praise in his lone season in Buffalo as a backup. He has the traits to succeed, but he has yet to put it all together on a consistent basis. The odds of him suddenly becoming anything great seems unlikely at this point, but if he wants to stick around in the league, he needs to put together a decent season.
His make-or-break season has started off on the right foot it appears. Despite a mixed performance in practice, Trubisky looked the part of a starter in the first preseason game. He doesn’t have to be perfect, but this is likely Trubisky’s last chance to start if he fails with the Steelers.
Bush has to hit his potential
One of the most disappointing players from last season, Devin Bush is on his last legs as a professional heading into this season. The former top-ten pick looked like he was starting to develop in his second season before he was lost to an injury. Last year was a different story, as Bush was consistently one of the worst players on the defense.
One of the only saving graces for Bush right now is that the team hasn’t given him much competition to start. Sure, Myles Jack will be the every-down starter, but Bush’s main competition for his role is Robert Spillane. While Spillane is giving it everything that he has, the team clearly wants Bush to finally live up to expectations.
It hasn’t looked promising so far, and if this trend continues, Bush may find himself on the bench sooner than later. If that happens, his NFL career will likely be dependent on some prove-it deals. He needs to step up right now and soon, as his career in the league may be depending on it.
The Steelers have quite a few players who are entering a make-or-break season in 2022. While for some their NFL careers could be facing the end of the line, all four of these players need to step up this season. If their struggles continue, the certainty of their careers will be up in the air.