3 Steelers veterans who could lose their jobs to rookies

What youthful changes could we see in the Steelers starting lineup in 2024?
Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers / Lauren Leigh Bacho/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Steelers have an impressive draft class heading into camp and fans are excited to see them in action sooner rather than later. But, this is Mike Tomlin's team, and history shows these rookies won't be handed anything.

Still, we've seen rookies in the past earn their keep quickly, such as TJ Watt, or a bit later in the season, such as Joey Porter Jr. This year, it looks like a few rookies will have to display some amount of patience before they see the field.

We're sure to see some of them a bit sooner, particularly Troy Fautanu and Roman Wilson. But where rookies step up, veterans must take a step back. These three Steeler veterans are the most likely to lose their job to a rookie during the 2024 season.

3. OT Dan Moore Jr. to Troy Fautanu

This one is the most obvious. First-round pick Troy Fautanu is already taking first-team reps at OTAs at right tackle, making Dan Moore Jr., the team's starting left tackle for the past three seasons, the odd man out.

Last year the Steelers drafted Broderick Jones and were almost too patient with him. Once he took over at right tackle, many fans were a bit frustrated that Moore retained his spot on the blind side. With the addition of Fautanu, however, the shift back to the left side for Jones was apparent.

Moore has shown solid improvement since entering the league as a fourth-round pick by Pittsburgh out of Texas A&M, but he never took a step to make Steeler fans, or his quarterbacks, particularly comfortable with him being a long-term option.

Omar Khan and Andy Weidl have made a concerted effort to build through the trenches and Jones and Fautanu are the cornerstone pieces. Seeing them as the bookends for the offensive line in Week 1 will be a refreshing sight.

2. RG James Daniels to Mason McCormick

In light of recent news, James Daniels needs to stay healthy to keep his job or secure another contract. The Steelers' front office indicated they will not pursue a contract extension with Daniels this offseason.

This does come as a bit of a surprise as the 27-year-old is coming off a strong season where he only allowed a single sack. Daniels has been the best lineman to play for the Steelers since David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey retired - not that he's necessarily on their level.

Still, there's something to be said about the Steelers intrigue with two potential replacements: second-year Maryland guard Spencer Robinson and fourth-round pick Mason McCormick out of South Dakota State.

Neither is likely to steal the job from Daniels in camp outright, but if he misses any time and one of these young guys steps up and performs well, it could spell the end of Daniels' time in Pittsburgh. While it seems more likely for Robinson to get that first crack, McCormick has been on the receiving end of some praise himself and could be a surprise addition on the offensive front under the right circumstances.

1. LB Elandon Roberts to Payton Wilson

Elandon Roberts was a welcome surprise in 2023. He seemed like the odd man out with Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander in the rotation, but after their season-ending injuries, Roberts stepped up as a leader of the defense.

Unfortunately, Roberts is still in the mold of a classic thumping linebacker. While that pairs rather well with Patrick Queen, more speed on the defense is always a good thing.

That's where Payton Wilson, the steal of Pittsburgh's 2024 draft class, comes in. Fans are excited for Wilson, and why shouldn't they be? He can fly around the field and make all of the plays.

This one won't come out of camp either. The experience Roberts carries in the defense is too valuable. However, barring injuries ahead of him, my expectation is that Wilson is going to get mixed into the rotation more and more until eventually he's lining up next to Queen more often than not.