2015 Depth Charts: Pittsburgh Steelers

| 2 years ago
PIT DC

2015 Depth Charts: Pittsburgh Steelers


PIT DCNotes

•  After a very average rookie season Le’Veon Bell burst onto the scene with an incredible 2014. 2210 yards of total offense and some impressive games throughout the year have vaulted him into the ‘NFL’s best running back’ discussion.

•   Once a major weakness, the Steelers’ offensive line is now one of their strengths. Kelvin Beachum was fantastic in pass protection and Ramon Foster was solid, with the rest of the line all coming in as Good. Maurkice Pouncey was never as good as the hype early in his career, but he’s improved to the point where he is now better than average.

•  He struggled for playing time early in his career, but Cameron Heyward is clearly the best player on the Steelers’ defensive line. Coming off his best season, he took major strides as a pass rusher in 2014.

•  While he is clearly on the downside of his career, Troy Polamalu is still a good safety. Better in an in-the-box role, he was our ninth-highest graded safety against the run last year.

 

Team Needs

Cornerback: There was a time when Cortez Allen looked like he was going to develop into a very good cornerback. That hasn’t happened, and realistically, they need to invest in the position this offseason.

Outside Linebacker: Jason Worilds is a free agent, and if they can’t bring him back it creates a major need at the position. Jarvis Jones hasn’t panned out at they had hoped, at least not yet, and potentially losing their three best edge defenders in Worilds, James Harrison and Arthur Moats creates a problem.

Defensive End: While Cameron Heyward is a very good player, the rest of the Steelers’ interior defensive line needs help. Stephon Tuitt struggled as a rookie while Cam Thomas isn’t the player we once though he could become in San Diego.

 

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| 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

    All offense and no defense – classic Steeler football.

    • Riffle,Rod&Fly

      Haha, it is the Bizarro Steelers! The Silk Curtain!

    • Football

      More Rings than Bengals
      6>0
      Show some respect

      • Chris

        How’s that going to help them in 2015?

        • Football

          How is Andy Dalton going to help the Bengals out of losing in the wild card?

          • Chris

            Not sure what that has to do with Pittsburgh?

          • Football

            Because every time Andy Dalton v.s. the Steelers defense he plays awful also as quarterback Dalton, Hoyer, and Manziel are disgraced to the AFC North Division making the offense choke every year.

          • Chris

            But we were talking about the Steelers and how their 6 rings aren’t going to help them make the playoffs in 2015? What does Dalton, Hoyer, or Manziel have anything to do with that?

          • Football

            Because you earlier comment was insanely ridiculous “All offense no defense classic Steelers football” uhh the Steelers are known for their defense unlike the bengals historically awful for their defense except the last couple of season’s ago.

          • Chris

            Guess you missed the sarcasm them.

            #WOOSHRightOverYourHead

          • Football

            Sorry, Sarcasm is for bitches. J.J. Watt Bumgal fanboy.

          • Football

            Also the Steelers have brighter future than the Bengals offensively this upcoming season with offensive weapons like Bell, Brown, Wheaton, Bryant, and now Deangelo Williams while the Bengals offensively is inconsistent so bow down bum.

          • Chris

            Scroll up and find where I said the Bengals would be better offensensivly. LAWL. Do you even read my posts before you expectorate all over your keyboard furiously typing a response?

  • Jaguars28

    Upgrade that defense, and this team is winning the Super Bowl.

    • Riffle,Rod&Fly

      This is a great year to draft pass rushers. We may just see that.

  • Dawmo Genesis

    TImmons is very good thank you very much. I mean he went to pro bowl, Heyward Didnt. And you have Heyward as a better player…

    • Chris

      It’s almost as if Pro Bowling voting is a farce entirely and you shouldn’t base players talent on a popularity contest….

      • Dawmo Genesis

        Excuse me but Timmons has been playing at a Pro Bowl level almost every season since he came into the league and this past year he got his FIRST pro bowl vote. Yeah, im gonna bring it up.

        • Chris

          What exactly is playing at a ‘Pro Bowl level’? The Pro Bowl is a popularity contest. Playing at a Pro Bowl level means people like you, not that you are the best at your position.

          Timmons did most of his damage as a pass rusher early in his career. It wasn’t until 2010 that he had a real breakout season and became a great run defender. He followed that up with a pretty poor 2011, rebounded in 2012, regressed in 2013, and then rebounded again in 2014. He hasn’t strung together great seasons yet in his career. I feel like Good is a very apt rating for him and based on his history he’ll probably have an average year in 2015.

          • Madi

            I agree about the Pro Bowl, but you know what Dawmo means. He means playing like one of the best players at his position in the league, or at least the conference.

            Timmons has not been bouncing all over the place like you make it seem. He does not alternate between playing well and playing poorly. Maybe his PFF grades reflect that, but that’s not how it is, and it’s not logical, either. In 2011 he spent half the year out of position at OLB, where he is not suited to play. The last couple years he’s been playing with a weaker defense around and in front of him. I’m not really sure how he regressed in 2013… I thought he played well. I think he’s absolutely been worthy of a “very good” label since 2010.

          • Chris

            I’m not sure why you’re on this website if you don’t value the grading PFF does. It’s a simple fact, his grades have been up and down since 2010, which was his break-out year. He has not been consistently great, he has been great at times.

          • Jaguars28

            To be fair, PFF has some questionable ratings and/or biases at times. I appreciate their grading and the overall job they do to put things into perspective, I just don’t always agree.

          • Chris

            I’ll use the same counter argument I always do. It’s always ‘stats say this’ and ‘eyeball test says that’ when people disagree over a player. PFF is the first attempt to put real quantitative results to the eyeball test. Sure they may have a bias at times, but if I had to bet I’d side with the guys that have actually watched every snap of every player instead of some dude who ball watches his team’s games and then gets offended by the low grades.

            Not saying you do that at all, just referencing how the argument usually goes. Some PIT fan tells me Timmons has been great since 2010, and PFF’s grades say he’s been great but inconsistent, I’ll bet on the latter being true. Just my opinion.

          • Madi

            You don’t have to bet. You could watch every snap of every game, like I do, and judge for yourself. I’m giving an opinion, and you’re refuting it by paraphrasing some other guy’s extremely summarized opinion, without any context.

          • Izach

            I will say I hate PFF grading simply because I believe it to be flawed by results, to put it in school terms they grade the answer not the “work done to get the answer” you know in math class teaches always tell you to show your work. They also grade all things equally regardless of the players roles. They have also admitted that grading has been subject to things like scheme/ usage/role of player on team.

            But that said I do enjoy their grades and articles it’s something I would do if given time to just watch football all day.

          • Chris

            And I will say, I agree…partly. Stats are grading the final answer. Sack numbers for DL, INTs for DBs, tackles for LBs…none of those really tell you how they play on every play. What PFF tries to do is show the work that led to the answer. Sure it’s not perfect, yet. But it’s light years ahead of anything else on the market.

          • Izach

            I will say it’s much more in depth that just stats, but going in depth only matters when it’s you are in on the right path, take their run stop percentage. It has nothing to do with the actual tackle only the result of the tackle in relation to yards gained by the Offense, so a guy can have a great % as but isn’t a strong tackler, for example a LB that hit the RB after at the LoS yet the RB is still able to fight for more yards in tape and film that’s a weak tackle but for PFF as long has he gains 4yds or less it’s a positive play, and in some instances they are right but if a player consistently tackles that way without force. Also issues with missed tackles as well but that’s another post entirely

          • Chris

            Run stop % is another stat. That has nothing to do with grades.

          • Izach

            Ah but it does, they way they grade tackles matter for the way they grade plays in general

          • Chris

            This is a leap of faith that neither of us know anything about. They say constantly in their articles, stats only go so far, they only tell so much. So yes if a guy ‘stops’ someone within 4 yards of the LOS, he gets a stop. Even if he hit him at the LOS and got dragged 3 yards, it’s still a stop. But that has nothing to do with how they grade. When they grade that same play they may give him a point for filling the alley quickly and making the hit at the LOS, but then take away half of it for getting dragged 3 yards. Neither of us has any idea.

          • Trucha

            “It’s a simple fact his grades have been up and down” “stats only go so far” It’s almost as if sports stats should be looked at like stats in other disciplines like economics where the results are understood to be less than perfectly factual but should be informing narratives which explain trends. Football gives us the least certain samples of any major sport and just because someone does not agree with a players category does not mean they don’t find PFF grading valuable.

            Just look at the KC depth chart where you say “Oh lawd, Captain Checkdown is green?” It’s almost like you don’t agree with the grade….. well why are you here? or what about this commentators concern? Is this not legitimate?

            “I don’t like these labels. PFF presents them like they are scientific categories but they aren’t even based on PFF grades. How else can you explain Sean Smith (who was top 5 in cornerback grades this year) being “good,” while guys like Patrick Peterson are “very good” when they have significantly lower grades. Sean Smith is in the same category as tons of corners despite playing at a way higher level (according to PFF).”

            Add to that football doesn’t have anything close the amount of data other sports like basketball does that allows them to grade groups of players relative to other groupings of players on the same team in multi-faceted terms and that PFF does not take into account scheme fit, coaching personnel and etc.

            I greatly appreciate PFF and am thankful that people who are more dedicated and smarter than me are able to make a living providing us statistics that I feel confident enough about to defer to most of the time.

            That being said those statistics have limitations and it seems a little hypocritical to pick and choose which ones are authoritative such that they go your way.
            Yes sometimes people are being fan boys but unless its egregious maybe the comment section doesn’t need this kind of zealous policing.

          • Chris

            There’s a difference in finding a grade surprising, like Alex Smith’s, and someone trying to prove their grade incorrect by using regular stats.

            Sure nobodies grades are perfect, and 5 people grading the same play might have 3 different opinions between them. But those opinions that are quantifying the eyeball test are still better than sacks and INTs and tackle stats.

            So again, I’ll trust the guys who watch every single play and put figures to their collective eyeball test.

          • Trucha

            Aside the fact that you are repeating my points and somehow think that you are arguing with me (unless you meant to respond to someone else).

            If anything, the person who isn’t trying to prove something with numbers is Madi and not you. Madi gave context that was missing and helps inform us of the circumstances of the player and grades in question. while you took defended a more arbitrary category label (goof vs very good vs bad etc) with numbers (grades). No one here is trying to argue that PFF’s grading is somehow worse than pure unweighted stats.

            If you would like an example of proving something with numbers how about this https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2013/07/02/five-years-of-pff-grades-top-10-linebackers/

            Its a little outdated but Timmons ranks 7th on this two yr old list of cumulative scoring over 5 yrs. Two players ahead of him on that list are retired. Earlier this season like week 13 his Run stop percentage was good for fifth in the position.

            Its pretty clear from PFF’s own numbers! that his grades have not oscillated nearly as wildly as you had implied and had been at one point good enough for elite level consideration over a large time span (5yrs is definitely along time in nfl yrs)

          • Izach

            Also same with coverage, or run support or pass rushing, PFF takes a very literal and results based way of grading in general

          • Madi

            You can’t imagine why I’d come here if I don’t accept PFF’s grades as fact? I can’t understand anyone, anywhere, that does. I agree with a lot, in fact most of what they do, it’s just too much to say, “I agree with ___” 40 times, and way easier to say “I disagree with ___” 5 times. I see the value in it, and if I want to learn about some random team like the Redskins with some players I’ve never really watched, I’ll take their grades as a decent ballpark measurement. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything. Their grades don’t even take every factor into account, and they admit that. For example, Timmons playing OLB for half a season (or maybe 5 games, I don’t know) in 2011. That hurt his grade unquestionably, but are you telling me that means he regressed? Bull.

            “It’s a simple fact, his grades have been up and down.” Yeah, I didn’t deny that fact. I’m saying that fact is not the same as saying his play actually was up and down. PFF is not God, it’s just an opinion, like yours or mine. I mean, like mine. Yours and PFFs are obviously always the same if you consider their opinion to be fact. I could say, “It’s a simple fact, I think Kent Graham is the best QB the NFL has ever seen.” That doesn’t make it so.

          • Izach

            I will also so I enjoy seeing PFF grades to see the comments ppl leave haha,

  • Bubba Crosby

    3 “very good”, not 2. Bell, Beachum, Heyward

  • Riffle,Rod&Fly

    These starting receivers may all be in the green soon.

    • Madi

      Not Brown.

      • Riffle,Rod&Fly

        Good point.

  • Adam

    Not that arguing player grades on PFF isn’t an exercise in futility, but some of these seem pretty arbitrary. Le’Veon Bell rated the same as C.J. Anderson for example or Decastro Pouncey and Gilbert all being rated the same just makes little sense.

    • Vitor

      It makes a lot of sense for me. Both were the top HBs last season (along with Lynch and Murray), and both don’t have the amount of years playing at a elite level (like they did last season) to label them that.

      • Adam

        And yet PFF handed out elite grades to some rookies.

        • Vitor

          Yeah, thinking about that now, I disagree on the rookies as already Elite.

      • Izach

        I think less time should work in their favor honestly, you are supposed to look at their entire body of work not just how many years they’ve been good, rookies and younger players that start off this good have very little negative film to say they won’t be this good again, doesn’t make sense not to bump up younger guys when they are that good early simply because of you average all their years in league they have been more good than bad

  • davathon

    Steelers playing a 3-4 without a good NT and without good OLBs? That’s not a good plan.

    • DrAWNiloc

      Agreed. The great edge rushers will be gone by the time the Steelers draft. Unless they reach a little to pick up Washington CB Marcus Peters, Pittsburgh may surprise a few by taking Oklahoma DT Jordan Phillips (6’5″, 329 lbs).

      • Chris

        I’ve followed Oklahoma this year and Phillips is a monster.

        • DrAWNiloc

          Absolutely. He’ll need to be a little more disciplined to fit in with Pittsburgh but, beyond that, he’s perfect. As they say, “Want to rebuild a poor defense? Start in the middle.”

    • Madi

      They do have a good NT. I have no idea what PFF doesn’t like about McLendon. Other than some health hiccups here and there, he’s definitely good. I’d have him on the border between light green and dark green.

      The only thing wrong with him is the coaches taking him out in sub-packages.

      • Izach

        PFF doesn’t hate him but they also don’t grade on talent or scheme just results, mclendon is a classic example of a player out of position, he’s a penetrator not a gap stuffer. And the steelers since his rookie year have forced him to gain weight and get stronger to be a gap stuffer which was a bad idea because he loses his athleticism when he’s 40lb heavier than he should be

        • Madi

          I think he’s a very effective NT. I think he gets good results. It makes sense to think he’d make a good DE, but that’s just speculation – he’s been a NT his entire career. However he does it, penetrating or eating space, he gets results.

          • Izach

            Idk if its really speculation as much as projection, his body type, and athletic skill set were suited to 3-4 DE but for what ever reason they decided to keep him at DT/NT it’s probably the same reasoning behind Willie Colon stayin at RT and struggling for so long yet move to OG and he was instantly a much higher caliber player.

          • Madi

            I also thought of Willie Colon. Difference being McLendon didn’t suck for 3 years at NT.

          • Izach

            To the contrary he may not have “sucked” but he leaves a lot to be desired, he may make his tackles and not get “beat” But he also doesn’t “win” his match up so well hey need to double him like they did Hampton, he also doesn’t have the same anchor that a NT typically does. He may not “suck” but he isn’t an elite NT either and that’s the issue to me he is average at what he’s asked to do when the scheme demands elite level play. It’s like having alex smith throw 50times a game he may not suck but being average is almost as bad when the scheme dictates more talent/different skill set is needed at the position

          • Madi

            I guess I disagree with the idea that an elite NT is required. I understand the importance of the position, but to me DE is just as important. I think Steve is good, and when he’s in, our NT position is good. Not elite, but we can’t be elite everywhere. Right now we have other positions that are either bad or non-existent. Positions like OLB, which also has an impact on run defense, and has a much larger impact on pass rush, which is our bigger problem. Also CB, where we are lacking top-level talent as well as depth, and again, I see as a bigger problem than our run defense (which I think will be improved anyway with Tuitt over Thomas).

          • Izach

            And I understand that, but the way the steelers 3-4 has always been was a 2gap system, so in that sense we needed a anchor type NT not a penetrator type but Keith butler may switch us to a 1 gap 3-4 which will suit the personnel better IMO. But in our older defenses they counted more on DL than ppl realize Hampton smith and kiesel often took blocks and still got pressure which helped the OLBs get singl blocks and thus improved the pass d too. But with smith gone Hampton gone and Kiesel in decline they weren’t the same Heyward is a goo surprise but with out that NT the DL is still a weakness when only 1 guy is playing at thatbdame high level.

          • [email protected]

            He is a solid NT, but I agree with lzach that he is out of position. Steelers need to gradually phase McClendon out of NT while phasing in Dan McCullers. McClendon could be used as a swing man for both DE and NT, thereby solving the Steelers DL depth issues.

          • Madi

            That works great, if McCullers can be as good as McLendon, and McLendon is willing to become a backup. Those “if”s are bigger than McCullers himself. And for 2015, I’d say they are very unlikely.

          • [email protected]

            The term ‘backup’ is irrelevant – look at the situation with Deebo and Moats; Moats ‘started’ a bunch of games when Harrison first re-joined, but Harrison ended up with more snaps by season’s end.
            I would normally agree on the ‘ifs’, and I am NOT denigrating McClendon with my suggestion, but:
            1. McClendon has done great work playing out of position, as he is really more suited for 5 tech than NT, and
            2. McClendon is 29 and his body is breaking down due to the constant stress of taking on the NT tasks.
            We will have to agree to disagree on the ‘if’ of McCullers being capable of starting full time by say 3/4 thru the year (note I didn’t say start right away, I said ‘gradually phase’ the change, so McClendon will still get plenty of NT snaps particularly earlier in the season when he is fresh.

      • Izach

        he should be a 280-285 DE but they have him as a 315-320 DT, when we need a 340+ NT to eat space hard to “judge a fish by they way he climbs a tree” type of situation

    • Pigeon

      well 3 of their 4 OLBs on the roster from last year are free agents now. They’re gonna be getting 1 or 2 in free agency and 1 or 2 in the draft. They do have 0 depth there though.

  • Vitor

    Is Polamalu still good? I have the ultimate respect for him, but he was lost in a lot of plays. It seems like he doesn’t know what is his position anymore.

    • Riffle,Rod&Fly

      I love Polamalu. I think injuries and age have taken their toll. He was a wildman out there.

    • Izach

      Again troy is actually a good SS problem is ppl are expecting and grading him to his former self as the best SS in the league for a years. He isn’t worth the contract the steelers gave him anymore but he still better than 70% of the safeties in the league

  • Madi

    I like this much better than last year’s. I think it’s much more accurate. Only a couple minor squabbles from me:

    -Bell is a no-brainer blue for me, unless you have some kind of rule about needing to see it for more than one year.

    -McLendon should absolutely be green.

    -I’d have Will Johnson as green, but for the amount of action he gets, I don’t blame you for keeping him yellow.

    -If we’re going by last year. I’d have Mike Mitchell in the orange. He should look better with a year in the system under his belt, so I expect him to do much better in 2015, but yikes.

    -I agree we need to target DE, but only the backup position. Tuitt didn’t look great overall, but for a rookie playing DE for the Steelers? He looked great. He’ll be great.

    -Cam Thomas should be a darker red, if possible.

    Not that it’ll happen, but I think switching Jarvis Jones to LOLB instantly bumps him up a rank. He has experience on that side and I think he’d fair much better against RTs.

    • Izach

      Mclendon isn’t green IMO might be able to be green but doesn’t play that way every snap/down

      Switching jones to LOLB isn’t ideal IMO. He isn’t strong enough to set edge yet and while I kno there isn’t as big a difference between RT/LT nowadays the stronger bigger, less athletic players still usually reside on the Right side of the offense if Jarvis can’t set edge on LT side he won’t be able to set edge on RT side, just look at the steelers OL Beechum is the LT because he’s more athletic where Gilbert who’s 6’6″ 330 is the stronger OT.

      • Madi

        The only snaps hurting McLendon are the ones where he’s on the bench.

        I think there would be an improvement in Jarvis’s pass rush larger than any deterioration of his run defense.

        • Izach

          Jones was getting better butt still wasn’t good injuries have always been his issue mixed with needing to develop which can’t happen when you are injured.

          Mclendon struggles to be what the steelers ask him to be which is a 2gapper. He can win 1on1 and can apply pressure, what he fails at is maintaining vs doubles or even demanding the double. He loses when this happens and more is needed from the NT steve plays like a Big DT not a true NT, rumors are tho he has gained enough good weight that he may finally be able to step up in that that regaurd from 6’4″ 280 as a reserve DT in 2010 to a 340lb beast it’s taken him years to gain that weight in a good manageable way let’s hope it pays dividends.

  • Jack Casey

    I’m a Patriots fan, but I can’t wrap my head around L Bell not being elite. I think he was the best back in football last year.

  • gdeuce

    so 1st team all pro Maurkice Pouncey is just good and Kelvin Beachum is very good?

  • Izach

    Havering say I love the OL the steelers have put together, Beechum isn’t typical and as a fan I love that a fan favorite who will be a cheaper cornerstone to lock up if he continues to develop and get better. Entire OL is young and finally healthy and gaining chemistry. Even wih Ramon Foster as the weak link this group is strong all led by pouncey.

    • Michael Mosgrove

      gilbert and adams bad

      • Izach

        Adams is a back up and a decent run blocker, Gilbert is better than you think, started off poorly which sticks in place mind but really did well after those early hiccups. He no worse than any OT we’ve had in the last decade and better than colon and Scott were at OT.

  • Do the Math

    The Steelers have 3 “Very Good” Players yet your bottom of the chart only says 2 very good player

  • jay

    Martavis Bryant should be good, and Heath Miller, Maurkice Pouncy, Lawrence Timmons all deserve very good at this point in their careers