Most versatile Steelers chess pieces for the 2022 season

Tre Norwood #21 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Tre Norwood #21 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

While they may not be the most high-profile players on the team, these Pittsburgh Steelers will offer incredible versatility during the 2022 season.

As is the case for every NFL team, quarterbacks and star players are going to have the biggest pull on what happens in each game. This will be no different with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Over the years, the team could only go as Ben Roethlisberger would take them, though T.J. Watt did his best to make sure the defense helped them stay competitive game in and game out.

I expect much of the same from Pittsburgh this year. However, I also want to bring attention to a few unsung heroes who could prove to be versatile chess pieces this year. These players could prove to wear multiple hats for the Steelers and take on multiple roles in 2022.

DB Tre Norwood

One player I think could surprise a lot of fans in 2022 is defensive back, Tre Norwood. Physically, there’s nothing special about the former seventh-round draft choice, but this guy seems to be in the right place at the right time pretty routinely. In his first preseason game, Norwood allowed 0 catches on 4 targets and chipped in 2 pass breakups.

It’s Norwood’s versatility that could really make him an asset. Despite being in just his second NFL season, he has the ability to play both nickel cornerback and free safety. He’s a chess piece the Steelers intend to use often as the extra dime defender, and I can see him taking a sizeable step forward from his rookie campaign.

TE Connor Heyward

I know this might seem like high praise for a guy that some don’t think is guaranteed to make the roster, but Mike Tomlin really likes Connor Heyward. Though he doesn’t have ideal size for a tight end (5’11”, 233 lbs.), Heyward is a true H-back by the very definition of the term.

In training camp, Heyward practiced exclusively with the tight ends, but he can line up all over the offense as both a fullback and a tight end and he has a terrific combination of receiving ability and blocking on the run. It’s very easy to see how he could be utilized in Matt Canada’s offense as early as his rookie season. Heyward is also expected to be a core special teams contributor.

S Damontae Kazee

Like Norwood, the Steelers have another versatile defensive back who could carve out a role in Damontae Kazee. Sadly, a preseason injury forced him to land on IR to begin the season, but the Steelers are optimistic that he will return. When he does, he could carve out a key role.

In 2018, Kazee actually led the NFL with 7 interceptions, according to Pro Football Reference, and he has ample starting experience throughout his career with the Falcons and Cowboys at both free safety and strong safety.

Kazee isn’t an ideal fit in the box, but he is a player that you can move around the secondary and make plays on the football — his ball skills are evidence of this. Kazee could prove to be the primary backup safety for both Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds and he could also see the field as an extra defender in dime packages.

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There are several other Steelers who offer positional versatility on the team, but these three will probably be the most flexible in their roles in 2022. Hopefully, all three prove to be quality chess pieces Mike Tomlin can utilize this year.