The Pittsburgh Steelers’ young core (players 25 or younger) came in at 17th in the league, according to ESPN and Football Outsiders.
Football Outsiders listed the Steelers with two top prospects in rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett and sophomore running back Najee Harris. Chase Claypool, Pat Freiermuth, Dan Moore Jr., Kendrick Green and James Daniels were also mentioned as young players who should help the Steelers in some capacity this year.
While I know they had to pick an age to use, just looking at players under 25 doesn’t really show much. James Daniels is doing this drill now, but if you did it the day before Week 2 he would be ruled out because he turns 25 on September 13.
We know the Steelers are pretty young this year, especially on offense. Pickett, who was on the list of top prospects, is rather unlikely to see much playing time this year. If ESPN publishes this article at this time next year, Pickett will not be eligible because he will have turned 25 on June 6. Pittsburgh also had seven players “graduate” from last season because they left the team or turned 25.
Despite ranking in the middle of the pack, the Steelers have a strong cadre of young talent, but some of them may just be too old to qualify for the roster. Of the players mentioned who weren’t top-notch prospects, Chase Claypool and Pat Freiermuth are expected to build on their 2021 seasons and achieve better numbers this year, while Dan Moore Jr. is looking to prove he can s stick to the long-term tackle. . James Daniels could be the best offensive lineman on the roster, while Kendrick Green needs to show more this year if he wins the starting guard spot from Kevin Dotson.
Due to all the players graduating, the Steelers’ rankings have gone from No. 6 last year to No. 17 this year. That ranking will likely drop again next year unless guys like Freiermuth reach blue chip level, as Harris and Pickett will age. Outside of a player who is rising and considered more valuable in the eyes of ESPN, Pittsburgh’s only top-notch prospect would be whoever he selects in the first round next year.
Despite the arbitrary nature of this exercise, it gives you a good general idea of which teams are recovering well. If guys in their second or third year appear on the roster as top prospects, it indicates that a team was successful in finding a draft pick. The age limit prevents teams that draft older prospects from getting a higher ranking if they age faster, but it’s a good base to watch and see who is hitting on a lot of picks.
Other than that, I wouldn’t place much value on these rankings. Pittsburgh has some solid young talent, and the nature of how these rankings are done simply doesn’t tell you much. Either way, the Steelers will need to develop the young talent they currently have and ensure they can become or remain starters for a long time. Having consistency in key positions is one of the traits of a winning team, and something Pittsburgh has traditionally done. As they enter a new era, let’s see if that remains the case.