Edge defender: The depth is looking more promising this year
T.J. Watt: The former Defensive Player of the Year and three-time Steelers MVP should once again be one of the most pivotal pieces on the team in 2023. The Steelers felt the impact when T.J. Watt was out with a pectoral injury early in 2022. If he can stay on the field for all 17 games, Watt could be a DPOY candidate once again this year.
Alex Highsmith: Highsmith just earned a massive four-year, $68 million contract extension. He's arguably the fourth-best defender on the Steelers roster, and he will play a huge role in 2023. Highsmith has been blessed with terrific health early in his NFL career, and he could be primed for his biggest season yet.
Markus Golden: Golden's best football is behind him at this point, but the savvy pass rusher can still win thanks to a blend of strength, leverage, and pass-rush moves. Golden should be a quality rotational edge defender at this point in his career and will prove to be a significant upgrade over an unspectacular Malik Reed in 2022.
Nick Herbig: With the addition of Golden, Nick Herbig won't be thrust into a huge on defense right away. Instead, he can focus on special teams as he builds on his pass-rush skills. Herbig is undersized and may ultimately need to transition to an off-ball linebacker.
David Perales: The Fresno State standout was very productive in college, but he didn't test well entering the NFL Draft this past offseason. Perales is a bit of a tweener but does have an arsenal of moves under his belt. He is a likely practice squad candidate with a chance to move to the active roster if an injury occurs.
Toby Ndukwe: A five-year player in college, Ndukwe struggled to stay on the field and make his presence felt. He recorded just 29 tackles and 4.5 sacks from 2018 to 2022 and never played a full season at SMU or Sam Houston State. He will be fighting for a spot on the practice squad.