Ranking the Steelers roster: 20-11

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Jan 22, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell (23) and cornerback Artie Burns (25) react during the third quarter against the New England Patriots in the 2017 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 22, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell (23) and cornerback Artie Burns (25) react during the third quarter against the New England Patriots in the 2017 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Who are the most valuable Steelers on the roster? Which players are the Steelers relying on to have a big 2017 season the most? Who would be the most devastating player to take away for a season? With camp approaching, we will rank the Steelers 90-man roster in order of importance. This edition will feature, players 20-11.

20. T.J. Watt

The rookie first round pick checks in at number 20. Watt is going to be on the field this season, the question is just how often? He will likely be in a rotation with James Harrison, but given his trajectory and what was invested in him, the hope is that by the end of the season he is replacing Harrison.

19. Artie Burns

Burns, of course, is the first round pick a season before Watt. Burns was eased into action last season but showed some promise as a potential starter. He did see some valleys as well, but the arrow has to be pointing up on Burns as the 2017 season kicks off.

18. Ross Cockrell

When Burns and Cockrell were on the field together, teams were targeting Burns. Cockrell fared well last season as a starter. He had allowed less than 50 yards in all but two games last season. If he can continue to progress, he could be in the talks for an extension this offseason.

17. Bud Dupree

The Steelers are going to need a big step forward for Dupree. Dupree has been great when he is on the field. However, he has only played 21 more snaps than Jarvis Jones did in his first two seasons. While Jones was healthy and still couldn’t see the field, and Dupree missed most of his time with a hernia, this will be a big third season for Jarvis Jones.

16. Alejandro Villanueva

Villanueva is a better average player at one of the most valuable positions in the NFL. He is still extremely raw, and there appears to be a huge untapped upside to his game. However, he has yet to reach it, and it will be interesting to see what the Steelers do with Villanueva in regards to an extension this summer.


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15. Javon Hargrave

Hargrave was excellent as a rookie. He got better as the season went on, and his best game of the season was the AFC Championship when he was one of the only players to show up. Entering year two, there is a ton of room for progression, and Hargrave should be a key piece to the defense moving forward.

14. Sean Davis

Davis struggled early in his rookie season when he was forced into the slot. However, when he moved to full-time safety he became a valuable asset. He was the best overall rookie last season and given his athleticism still, has a relatively high ceiling.

13. James Harrison

It is hard to put such a legendary player any lower. While the Steelers do hope that Watt can eventually take over for him, Harrison is still a game changer, even in a limited role. When he is on the field he is delivering at his best, and he brings too much to the table, even at his age to move him lower.

12. Mike Mitchell

Mitchell is underrated key to the defense. He is aggressive, and while it is overly aggressive at times, his ability to make statements near the line of scrimmage, and deep as a centerfielder make him a valuable asset.

11. Ryan Shazier

Shazier has the chance to shoot up a lot higher with a healthy 2017 season. He is a great athlete and a game changer on the defensive side of the ball. However, he has never put in a full 16 game season, and until he does that it is hard to completely rely on him.

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