Intriguing Positional Battles for Steelers in 2024

Pittsburgh's newly-added talent is going to make these positional battles especially intriguing in 2024.
Jul 27, 2023; Latrobe, PA, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cory Trice (27)
Jul 27, 2023; Latrobe, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cory Trice (27) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past two draft classes, the Pittsburgh Steelers have added remarkable talent to their roster. Many of these players will be wearing black and gold for the first time, while others could have increased roles this season.

This sudden surplus of talent is sure to create intriguing positional battles on the Steelers' roster during training camp. For some positions, the outlook is very clear. For others, there could be a 'three dogs, one bone' situation.

Young players will be fighting tooth and nail for the opportunity to not only stick on the final 53-man roster but to also carve out a meaningful role with their team. Here are the biggest positional battles to watch as we look ahead to training camp.

Steelers positional battles in 2024

Slot receiver

The Steelers suddenly have no shortage of options at slot receiver. Before free agency, this seemed like Calvin Austin's job to lose. Now veteran Quez Watkins was added to the mix, and Pittsburgh spent their third-round pick on former Michigan stud, Roman Wilson.

Wilson was a high draft investment and is projected to play on offense from the gate, but it's hard to see if Austin or Watkins could cut into his snap count, or even which of these three players Mike Tomlin and Arthur Smith will prefer to have the biggest role early in the season. The Steelers are expected to add one more receiver, so Austin's and Watkins' role on the team might not be secure.

Backup boundary cornerback

It's very clear that the Pittsburgh Steelers have a very specific type of boundary cornerback they are looking for these days. After drafting Joey Porter Jr. with the 32nd overall pick in 2023, the Steelers added Cory Trice Jr. and Darius Rush to their roster.

This year, they grabbed Ryan Watts in the sixth round. All of these cornerbacks stand at upwards of 6'2'' with at least 32'' arms. Pittsburgh plans to play more press-man coverage, so they are likely hoping to find a player they can pair with Porter beyond the 2024 season.

For now, an undersized Donte Jackson (5'10 1/2'', 29 1/2'' arms) is that guy. But Pittsburgh has thrown darts at the wall when it comes to boundary cornerbacks to see which one will stick.

Backup defensive line

The Steelers spent a sixth-round pick on Logan Lee, but his role on the team won't be secure until he proves himself. Lee joins players like DeMarvin Leal and Isaiahh Loudermilk as tall but underweight interior defenders coming out of college who are hoping to leave their mark and be involved in the DL rotation.

So far, the experiments with Loudermilk and Leal haven't worked out as planned. The addition of Lee in the 2024 draft only muddies the waters further. This should be an interesting positional battle to watch this summer.

Slot cornerback

While the Steelers suddenly have a handful of cornerbacks who fit the mold of what they are looking for on the boundary, that's not the case when it comes to slot CB. With a run on cornerbacks early in the draft, Pittsburgh didn't take a nickel defender that many expected them to.

This positional battle is intriguing due to the mystery of who could be manning this position in 2024. For now, the Steelers have players like Josiah Scott and Kalen Barnes who may have a chance to prove themselves in camp, but more competition should be added before camp.

Linebacker rotation

Just like that, the Steelers suddenly have four starting-level linebackers on their team. Over the past two offseasons, Omar Khan found a way to turn Myles Jack, Devin Bush, and Robert Spillane into Patrick Queen, Elandon Roberts, Payton Wilson, and Cole Holcomb.

Wilson and Holcomb both have extensive injury histories and Holcomb is still rehabbing from a serious knee injury. However, if all four players prove to be ready at some point during training camp, I'll be interested to see what the linebacker rotation looks like. This has the potential to be one of the strongest positional groups on the roster in 2024.

Backup offensive guard

Nobody's stock was hurt worse than Nate Herbig's during the 2024 NFL Draft, as the Steelers drafted not one, but two interior offensive linemen in the first four rounds. Herbig is projected to take a back seat to Zach Frazier at center, but he could also be fighting to retain his job as the swing interior offensive lineman.

Last year, Herbig backed up Mason Cole at center as well as Isaac Seumalo and James Daniels at both guard positions. However, a healthy offensive line meant that he was barely called upon. Now he will compete with fourth-rounder Mason McCormick to remain the primary backup at guard. The Steelers are very high on McCormick, who tested as an incredible athlete and played left guard for South Dakota State.


All signs point to Russell Wilson starting for the Steelers to begin the 2024 season, and Mike Tomlin reportedly told Wilson that will be the case. But I still want to see how much Justin Fields shows during training camp and whether it will be enough to change Tomlin's mind.

In an ideal situation, Fields -- who is a decade younger than Wilson with incredible physical gifts -- would be the prime candidate to win the job. It's going to be the savvy veteran against the polarizing dual-threat QB. It will be fun watching these two go all out at Steelers training camp.