With the draft now in the rearview mirror, the power rankings are flooding in as fast as a tween to the new Power Rangers movie. These rankings are subjective because no games have been played in the 2017 season. However, writers feel the urge to move teams around based on how they fared in the draft and free agency.
Filling needs and acquiring playmakers can change the dynamic of the team. The Steelers filled some big needs on their team by drafting an outside edge rusher, T.J. Watt. In addition, adding another outside wideout weapon in JuJu Smith-Schuster is a nice insurance policy in an offense that has a hard time keeping wide receivers eligible to play every Sunday.
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In a nutshell, this is the early projections of who is the best team in the NFL and who is the preseason projection to win the Super Bowl. Let’s take a look at how the Steelers rank on May 10th.
Rationale: Interesting draft for the Steelers, who look to return to the AFC Championship Game this year, but partially drafted for next. While T.J. Watt could contribute right away, according to our NFL.com scout Lance Zierlein, his lack of a powerful base could be problematic … think about going against power-running teams. The debatable pick came in Round two when Pittsburgh took receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Certainly not a terrible pick, but with Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell(who will catch 60 balls as a running back) on the roster, Smith-Schuster will be the fourth option — at best.
Putting the draft aside, the Steelers and the NFL lost a giant with Dan Rooney’s passing. The Rooney family, in general, has stewarded this franchise with the utmost class and humility, something our current world — at least in the U.S. — is missing. There’s no need for me to remind anyone of the Rooney Rule here, but I would be remiss if I wrote about this without acknowledging the passing of a wonderful human being.
Rationale: The Steelers’ biggest offseason addition might be a guy they already had. If Martavis Bryant can stay off suspension, the offense gets even more dynamic and next offseason’s Ben Roethlisberger retirement hints become a little bit easier to handle.
Rationale: Getting pass rusher T.J. Watt in the first round will help a defense that needs more from the edge. With Ben Roethlisberger back — was he really going anywhere? — they will again be in the Super mix.
Rationale: With no major holes to fill, the Steelers paid Antonio Brown (four-year extension) and Le’Veon Bell (franchise tag), and Ben Roethlisberger put his nebulous retirement plans on hold. Their rookie class could provide the depth (at some positions they were already pretty strong in) to widen the gap in the AFC North, but will Pittsburgh’s Big Three ever all make it to January in one piece?
Rationale: OLB T.J. Watt doesn’t need to replicate his brother J.J., but the pass rush needs a jump-start. WR Martavis Bryant’s return aids an offense that has struggled to keep all its pieces on the field.
On paper, the Steelers are looking good by ranking either fourth or sixth by these organizations. However, these power rankings are nothing more than just numbers. The rookies have just reported and the black and gold are gearing up for team activities. Until we start playing on September 10th, these are just nothing more than fun to look at.
Scott Menk covers and writes about the Steelers for cover32 and can be followed on Twitter @SGMENK.