3 biggest concerns on Steelers roster ahead of training camp

The Steelers have built a strong roster as they prepare for training camp, but there are still areas of improvement for them to consider.
Pittsburgh Steelers v Seattle Seahawks
Pittsburgh Steelers v Seattle Seahawks / Conor Courtney/GettyImages

Steelers general manager Omar Khan has done an excellent job of adding talent to the roster over his first two full seasons in charge. His draft classes have been widely praised, he has added several impact starters at key positions and was quick to move on from the Kenny Pickett experiment at QB. Despite all the positives, not even the best NFL teams enter training camp with zero concerns on the roster.

The Steelers are no exception, and I believe Khan is well aware of the weaknesses of the team as they prepare for their trip to Latrobe in late July. Whether it's through trades, late free agent additions, or giving young players more opportunities, I fully expect the Steelers coaches and front office to address their biggest concerns.

Let's look at where they should be focusing those efforts to improve.

Wide receiver two is still up in the air

In a decision that will shock exactly nobody, wide receiver is the first position that I think the Steelers should be concerned about. You can look at basically every receiver trade rumor out there and the Steelers are probably named as a team that could be interested.

That doesn't mean that they are that desperate to trade for someone, but where there's smoke there is fire. The big name consistently tied to them of course is 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk, but what they really need is a reliable receiver two.

George Pickens should be the Steelers unquestioned number-one target in the passing game after his performance in 2023. Would Aiyuk still be a huge get to pair with him? Certainly, but the hiring of Arthur Smith has to be factored in.

Smith wants to run the football and rarely has three wide receivers on the field, at least compared to most other offenses. Spending that much draft capital and money on two receivers for his offense isn't necessary.

Asking third-round rookie Roman Wilson or any of the other options on the roster to be the number two is also a tough ask. Adding somebody like the Broncos Courtland Sutton or the Giants Darius Slayton would cost far less but raise the floor of the room.

Donte Jackson shouldn't keep the Steelers from adding to the corner room

The Steelers made multiple trades during the offseason, one of which was the trade to bring in corner Donte Jackson from the Panthers in exchange for Diontae Johnson. That move was supposed to give Joey Porter Jr. a quality running mate at outside corner, but I am not so sure that Jackson provides that.

He has had just one season in his career where he was an above-average corner, and that was back in 2020. Since then he has suffered a major injury (Achilles tear in 2022) and has seen his play never exceed that of a mediocre corner two.

The Steelers could look at adding another veteran via trade, but they should look in house first with some of their young corners. Cory Trice Jr. in particular is an intriguing option thanks to his height and length combination to go along with good athleticism at that size.

There are major injury concerns that have already shown up (torn ACL in 2023), but he has immense upside as another physical corner opposite of Porter Jr. The best outcome for the Steelers is for Trice Jr. or another young player like Darius Rush to beat out Jackson at some point this season.

Edge rush depth is once again a concern

Nobody in their right mind would call edge rusher a concern for the Steelers defense, at least when discussing their starters. T.J. Watt is one of the best players in the sport, and Alex Highsmith would be the top edge rusher on multiple other teams.

Having those two by themselves gives the Steelers one of the most dynamic pass rushes in the league. Last year's fourth-round pick Nick Herbig gives them a smaller but twitched-up athlete who is perfect as the first guy off the bench as well.

So why should edge depth be a concern? The other edge players on the roster currently have a combined 118 career snaps on defense. Jeremiah Moon and Kyron Johnson are completely unproven as even rotational players, and right now they are an injury or two away from playing significant snaps.

We have seen what happens to the defense when Watt misses time, and yet the front office has continued to ignore edge depth. Hopefully, Omar Khan looks to add to the group before training camp.