4 underrated Steelers players who could make a massive impact next season

The stars get all the credit, but these underrated Steelers could be ready to make a significant impact in 2024.

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

Mike Tomlin isn't going anywhere, but that doesn't mean that the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't ushering in a new era. Omar Khan and Andy Weidl are running the front office much differently than we were accustomed to seeing with Kevin Colbert, and they are looking to crush the NFL Draft for the second straight time.

Meanwhile, the offense looks completely different than it did in 2023. Former Falcons head coach, Arthur Smith, will be calling the plays as the offensive coordinator, while Russell Wilson and Justin Fields should prove to be an upgrade at the quarterback position.

With all of the roster moves that have taken place early in the 2024 offseason, there has been no time to think about role players on the Steelers and what their responsibilities could look like this season. We know the big-name players are going to show up and ball out, but these four underrated players could have a massive impact on the team in 2024.

Darnell Washington, TE

We knew that Darnell Washington was raw... and boy, was he ever! During his rookie season in 2023, the 6'7'', 264-pound tight end was inconsistent as a blocker and missed too many easy assignments. Likewise, he made minimal impact as a receiver -- catching just 7 of 10 targets for 67 yards in 17 games.

In Year 2, there's more than enough reason to believe that Washington is on deck for a breakout campaign. Despite flashes that were few and far between, Washington will now be playing in an Arthur Smith-led offense that should be much better for his skill set. This will include more two-tight end sets and fall less '11' personnel.

It's also important to remember that Washington didn't have a ton of experience coming out of college and that he's still just 22 years old. The mammoth tight end is never going to be a fluid mover, but the size, power, and frame are unmatched and he could have a massive season with a new offense in 2024.

Nate Herbig, IOL

The less popular of the two brothers, Nate Herbig was a free agent signing by the Steelers during the 2023 offseason. He served as the primary interior offensive line backup for Pittsburgh during his first season in The Steel City, and that's where he projects moving forward.

But don't be surprised if Herbig winds up playing a big role to this team in 2024.

The Steelers don't have a capable center on the roster, and if they don't end up taking one early in the NFL Draft, Herbig will have a chance to start at the position. Ahead of the draft, ESPN has Herbig listed as the starting center -- wedged in between Isaac Seumalo and James Daniels.

Herbig has lots of experience at each OG position, but he has taken just 49 snaps at center during this NFL career (47 of which came with the Eagles in 2021). But after five NFL seasons, Nate Herbig is still just 25 years old and possesses a powerful frame. Don't rule out the chance that he sees the field and impresses in 2024.

Nick Herbig, EDGE

Speaking of Herbig, it would be impossible to leave Nick Herbig off this list. Despite being a fourth-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, the former Wisconsin edge rusher flashed his remarkable pass-rush ability as a rookie -- earning 3.0 sacks, 5 tackles for a loss, and 3 QB hits in limited action.

With Markus Golden gone, Herbig is projected to slide into a bigger role in his second season. He could be called upon frequently to spell T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith of snaps when they need a breather. The arrow is pointed way up for Herbig, and he could prove himself as a bonafide pass-rush specialist in 2024.

Cory Trice Jr.

One name you might not have thought about at all last season is Cory Trice Jr. Trice was a former seventh-round draft choice by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2023 who tore his ACL early in training camp.

Generally, I think it's a bad idea to expect much from late-round draft picks -- even those who are healthy. Though Trice is coming off a season-ending knee injury, the talent and upside is there if he can stay on the field. If not for his extensive medical history, Trice would have been a Day 2 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Opportunities will be limited, and the talented cornerback will need to make the most of them. But with a severe lack of depth at the cornerback position in Pittsburgh, this underrated player could surprise everyone by what he's able to do in 2024.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.