2014 Depth Chart: Pittsburgh Steelers

A look at the depth and quality of each position on the roster for the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers.

| 3 years ago

2014 Depth Chart: Pittsburgh Steelers

2014 depth update PIT

 [Chart last updated 7/2/14… see update notes from 7/2/14]


•  How much longer Ben Roethlisberger will be a high quality starter is up for debate, but when he plays the way he did last year, the Steelers will always contend for a playoff spot. Able to keep plays alive when it looks like there is only a negative play to be had, he’s still a very good quarterback at this stage.

•  Heath Miller will be 32 during the 2014 season and is coming off his worst season since we began grading. He was coming back from an injury, but his play deteriorated as the year went on, so it’s fair to question if he can get back to his best.

•  It’s tough to get a good read on outside linebacker Jason Worilds after four years in the league. The player we saw from Week 11 onward last year was definitely a high quality starter, but can he reproduce that form over a full season? Until he does, I think having him highlighted in light green is a fair compromise.

•  Ike Taylor a below average starter? Well, yes. He allowed 71 catches for 1,043 yards and six touchdowns. That included a torrid two weeks against the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions where he allowed 14 catches for 328 yards.

Roster Battles

1.  Wide Receiver

Antonio Brown returns as the Steelers’ top offensive weapon, and new signing Lance Moore figures to be a top target from the slot, but how about beyond that? We haven’t seen enough of Markus Wheaton yet to tell if he can be the answer, though the speedster did drop two of the eight catchable passes thrown his way in 2013. Speaking of drops, they added former Oakland Raiders and Indianapolis Colts pass-catcher Darrius Heyward-Bey and, while he has plenty of speed to beat defensive downfield, he too has struggled to be consistent at bringing the ball in.

2.  Defensive End

It’s expected that the recently signed Cam Thomas will open the year as the Steelers’ starting left end, but could second-round draft pick Stephon Tuitt push him for playing time? Thomas has impressed in flashes over the past two seasons, but his best work has come at nose tackle. Obviously we haven’t seen any of Tuitt yet, and the Steelers have been cautious to work rookies onto the field, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

3.  Punter

It might not be an exciting battle, but Brad Wing and Adam Podlesh will fight it out to be the Steelers’ punter in 2014. We haven’t seen Wing yet, but based on Podlesh’s body of work it would be surprising if Wing didn’t win the job.


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Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • Chris

    McLendon is purely a run stuffer. Thomas offers some ability as a rusher, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them rotate those two at NT, and use a combo of Thomas/Tuitt at DE. Regardless, the DE is very short on depth.

    The LB corps has a ton of potential. If Jones can improve as a rusher and Worilds can open this season the way he closed last year, they could get some good pressure. And depending on how Shazier pans out as a rookie, him and Timmons could look pretty good over the middle.

    DB is where it gets sketchy. Allen is pretty good, but Taylor blows and unless they change scheme and stop having him shadow WRs, he’ll be in for another terrible year. And Gay just had a career year and it was just a ‘good’ year. Mitchell at safety is the same deal. A career average player who suddenly had one good year.

    That doesn’t even take into account Polamalu getting injured again. I hope Shamarkos ready.

    Offensively, the RB tandem should run well behind that pretty decent OL. DHB and Wheaton will fight for the deep threat opposite Brown while Moore man’s the slot. Regardless, the WR situation should be better than it was last year. They seem pretty set on offense – the defense needs to start playing up to it’s potential and hope the secondary doesn’t continue to disappoint.

    • Hampwood

      Mclendon is a better pass rusher than Thomas

      • Chris

        Each has played 4 years.

        McLendon: +2.7 in 335 snaps (+0.008 per snap).

        Thomas: +7.2 in 759 snaps (+0.009 per snap).

        Looks the same, however Thomas has 6 greens to McClendons 4, meaning:

        Thomas: +11.9 in 6 greens, means -4.7 in all other games.

        McLendon: +7.9 in 4 greens, means -5.2 in all other games.

        McLendon has played half the pass rushing snaps of Thomas. They’ve posted the same +2 average in their green games. However McLendon has been worse in his other games combined on half the snaps

        I’m still giving the edge to Thomas – you can do as you wish.

        • Madi

          McLendon is stronger this year and will be used in more pass-rushing situations than any time in his career. I think he’ll get 4+ sacks this year.

    • Asmitty56

      DHB has no business making the roster, let alone seeing playing time. I’ll be shocked if the WR corpes doesn’t pan out to be Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Justin Brown, Martavis Bryant.

      McLendon likely won’t play enough to be considered a “good” player. the rush defense numbers were “solid” with him on the field, and should improve with him back up to weight and Cam Thomas not being Ziggy Hood, with the possibility of Tuitt taking the starting spot from him. I like like their DL depth, Brian Arnfelt, Nick Williams, Daniel McCullers, Josh Mauro are inexperienced, but in the future they provide some good potential as developmental projects.

      Not sure what’s going to happen with the CBs, hopefully Cortez Allen improves and he and Gay surpass Taylor this year. One positive is Antwon Blake seems to be doing well in camp.

  • DrAWNiloc

    FWIW, I might call Darrius Heyward-Bey any number of things but “pass-catcher” isn’t one of them.

    • Chris

      How about Bricks For Hands?

      • Jack

        Bricks is way too polite

  • Hampwood

    Gordon… or anyone else. How is Antonio Brown not Elite? He had the highest pass rating of any receiver in 2013.

    • Chris

      I’ve seen them offer similar explanations before. They like to see several years of elite production before they bump a guy up.

      • Hampwood

        You mean like how in 2011 and 2012 Antonio Brown finished as high as the 6th best WR with 20.7 overall grade combined. Brandon Marshall finished 9th at best with 22.8 overall grade combined. This is a mistake and Antonio Brown is elite. The only thing he’s lacking is the size of the other wr’s

        • Tim

          I have to agree, he should be elite. His run blocking needs work, but he’s unbelievable after the catch and has underrated hands.

        • Chris from the Cape

          Camon: We all know Brown has turned into a great receiver, but he had 787 yards in 2012 w/ a very good QB to work with. That hardly makes PFF inconsistent for wanting to see another great year before moving him to blue.

        • Izach

          That size limits brown, he disappears for stretches of games because a good CB can press him easily he is crafty tho and doesn’t stay covered but can also effectively be game planned against. As well as not winnin a lot of contested balls his hands are good and great when open but loses contested balls. I’m a steeler fan and I hate seeing brown having to do everything himself because we can’t get another good WR on the roster

  • Rick S.

    I think Leveon Bell is High Quality…

  • thenextone82

    I’m surprised the Steelers roster isn’t stronger.

    • Madi

      They are, in real life.

  • Madi

    By this time next year, the following guys will be green:

    Le’Veon Bell, Steve McLendon, Jarvis Jones, Mike Mitchell, Cortez Allen. Also Shazier and Tuitt, but can’t blame PFF for that. For Bell and McLendon, I’m not sure what they’re waiting for. I thought Steve showed enough last year, but if you’re not convinced, after gaining weight and strength this offseason, he will have his best year in 2014. Heyward, Worilds, and DeCastro will be dark green.

    Not sure what they’re waiting for on Will Johnson. Love that guy.

    I appreciate the restraint shown in not listing Maurkice Pouncey as orange or yellow.

    • Chris

      I think both Heyward and McLendon should be dark green already. Heyward is the best player on the defense and McLendon is one of the best run stoppers in the league.

      • Doug McGuire

        McLendon should be in orange, compare our run defense in 2013 to all our years with Casey Hampton

        • Chris

          Not sure that’s McLendons fault, but that’s your opinion

      • Izach

        Heyward is good, mclendon has failed IMO as a NT needs to lose weight get his quicks back and try to play DE he just isn’t stout enough for our Def as a NT sure he may beat blocks or not get blown back by 1×1 blocks but our NT for our Def is supposed to clog lanes and win double teams every play. It’s a simple case of good player in wrong scheme/position.

    • JT

      Lol Mike Mitchell had arguably the best pass rush in the league to support him and he only got an average grade…how is he going to improve that much?

      • Madi

        You really LOL’d at my comment? …I was being optimistic with the “will.” I should have said “should.” I can’t control what PFF does.
        That said, it’s reasonable to hold back a little on Mitchell for the time being, because he’ll be on a new team with new surroundings, and he needs to prove he wasn’t a one-hit wonder. I’m very confident he’ll succeed in Pittsburgh. I think after the upcoming season, people will realize he’s the real deal. So it’s not about him improving, and I never said it was. It’s about proving.

    • Asmitty56

      Bell definitely will be dark green, especially considering his catching ability. McLendon we will have to see, with his weight back up he’ll hopefully have ab better season. But it likely won’t matter as they’re set to play a lot of sub packages. Jones, Mitchell, and Allen we’ll have to wait and see. I’m more than tickled we got Shazier and Tuitt, but they have to show their potential on the field. Heyward, DeCastro, and Pouncey will likely be joining Bell in the dark green group. Not sure about Worilds yet, he showed well late in the season as a pass rusher. But his entire career has been nothing but inconsistencies and injuries. Would like to see him improve against the run as well. Will Johnson is not that good of a blocker, his redeeming quality is he’s athletic. Hopefully they’ll feature that a decent amount this year in the passing game. I’d consider it a slight that Timmons isn’t dark green as well.

    • Izach

      Gilbert should be in red after 2games into the 2014 season, and after we invested in him it looks like an obvious mistake already, same with Cortez so far but he isn’t getting help from a passrush and looks just below average

  • Jeff

    As much as I like Troy Polamalu… is he still a high quality starter? I think he should be a “good starter” going forward. Considering his age, and the way he gambles on the field.

    • Madi

      In 2013 he was closer to “elite” than he was to “good.” In my opinion, they have already dropped him based on projected performance in 2014, due to age. If this was based on 2013 alone he’d have a better shot of being blue than light green.

    • Asmitty56

      Well considering he played ILB a decent amount last season due to injuries and inexperience at the position, it’s understandable why he didn’t look as impressive. Thankfully he’ll never have to do that again.

  • pghpatriot

    I guess I don’t understand his color coding. Greg Warren AND Shaun Suisham BELOW AVERAGE STARTER???? Heath = AVERAGE. Boy, have I overestimated our talent!

    • Asmitty56

      Yeah.. It’s not like Suisham’s accuracy wasn’t nearly perfect or anything.. 93.8% conversion rate.

  • Brett Vaccaro

    Lance Moore is average. He’ll be exposed as such without Drew Brees throwing him the ball. It’s the same story with Robert Meachem when he went to San Diego for a year, only he is a below average receiver.

    • Asmitty56

      Ben isn’t exactly a slouch. Moore’s stats might not blow anyone away this season with him likely being behind in targets with Brown, Miller, and Wheaton ahead of him, as well as Justin Brown and Bryant eventually being worked in the redzone at some point. But he could be a useful player on 3rd downs much like Cotchery.