Pittsburgh Steelers Most Under and Overrated Offseason Additions
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been busier this offseason than at any other time in recent memory. After consecutive 8-8 seasons, the front office recognized that there needs to be some significant adjustments made to the roster in order to return to prominence in the AFC.
Nevertheless, for all the hype that many of this team’s additions are getting, the real impact of many of these players is likely overrated. On the flip side, some of these players have a chance to really make an appreciable difference in this team’s success.
Being overrated doesn’t mean they won’t help this team, but if you look at these eight players, it is pretty clear which ones warrant praise at this point, and which ones do not.
Overrated: Mike Mitchell, Safety
Last season was a struggle for the Steelers secondary. Age and lack of overall athleticism reared its ugly head on more than one occasion in 2013. With safety Ryan Clark being a free agent, most understood that in some form or fashion, this team was moving on from Clark.
There was a school of thought that safety Shamarko Thomas would be next in line to take Clark’s spot. Thomas is an interesting player but still struggling to find his way in the league. The hope is that Thomas is ready to step in for Troy Polamalu in 2015 in that strong safety role.
That still left a spot open in the secondary at free safety. The Steelers could have drafted a safety but instead chose to delve into free agency and sign Mike Mitchell. Mitchell essentially parlayed one season as a starter into an opportunity to be a star in Pittsburgh.
However, everyone needs to temper their enthusiasm for Mitchell at this point. Mitchell is an excellent athlete who was part of a tremendous defense in Carolina. The Steelers are going to ask much more of Mitchell than the Panthers did. It is hard to envision Mitchell doing for the Steelers what he did for the Panthers.
Underrated: Lance Moore, Wide Receiver
Pittsburgh wasn’t shy about switching things up at wide receiver. It was expected that the Steelers would have to reach out to some free agents at wide receiver after letting Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery leave.
And the Steelers found themselves a real sleeper with Lance Moore. Pittsburgh needs Moore’s experience and veteran presence to pair up with all the young players on the roster; just like in 2013 when Cotchery’s experience won out over Sanders’ superior athletic ability on many occasions.
Everyone wants to get excited about second-year wide receiver Markus Wheaton and rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant, and rightfully so.
However, for all their potential, Moore is the guy who is going to be out there in key moments. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wants a player he can count on, and with his experience and talent, Moore could absolutely be that guy.
Overrated: Dri Archer, Running Back
Before anyone gets all worked up about the inclusion of running back Dri Archer, just relax. I think that Archer is going to be a productive player for the Steelers. Archer’s speed is something rare, even among NFL players.
The reason he ends up overrated as an addition here is because, like it or not, there are only so many touches to go around. We can all be as enamored as we want about Archer’s speed, but realistically, he’s not going to see that many carries.
Pittsburgh viewed the selection of Archer in the third round as a luxury pick. Nevertheless, there were needs on this team that had to be pushed later into the draft because of it.
However, it is hard to reconcile a third-round selection on what is in essence a novelty. I will be shocked if Archer sees 10 touches in a game during his rookie season.
Underrated: Cam Thomas, Defensive Line
The heart of a great 3-4 defense is that defensive line. The Steelers struggled at finding pieces that fit properly in 2013. This is of course excluding defensive end Cameron Heyward, who was great all season.
The addition of Cam Thomas gives Pittsburgh a real force in the middle of that defensive line. Thomas is a massive nose tackle prospect, who is also athletic enough to slide outside as a 5-technique end, and push the middle in a 4-man front.
The addition of Thomas will also allow the Steelers defense to be less reliant on defensive tackle Steve McLendon. McLendon was a liability last season and forced the defense into sub packages far too often.
When it all plays out, there might not be a new addition that has a more positive influence on this team than Thomas. The key will just be for Thomas to play with better consistency, and this entire defense will be improved.
Overrated: Arthur Moats, Linebacker
It’s not terribly comforting to go into the season with Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds as starting outside linebackers, and so little behind them. The free-agent market for pass-rushing outside linebackers was fairly robust, and the draft was deep with pass-rushers.
And so what do the Steelers do? They decide to sign linebacker Arthur Moats, who’s never played a 3-4 outside linebacker before. Don’t get me wrong, Moats is a nice player. He’s a big bag of football clichés. He’s a high-motor guy who goes hard all the way through the whistle.
However, this team needed more talent at outside linebacker, and they didn’t get it. There are no guarantees Jones is ready for a full-time role, and Worilds’ is an unknown beyond this season. No, the signing of Moats doesn’t improve the pass rush, and therefore doesn’t improve the defense. That money could have been better spent elsewhere.
Underrated: Ryan Shazier, Linebacker
Steelers fans need to be ready. The next great Pittsburgh inside linebacker is now on the roster. Rookie Ryan Shazier was brought in with a very specific purpose. Shazier’s speed, mixed with an attacking defense equals big plays.
More specifically, Shazier’s skills and athleticism mean Pittsburgh is going to be far more effective in base defense. And when this team can stay in base defense, the playbook really opens up. Last season, being forced into so much nickel and dime pulled their best defenders off the field.
Shazier is going to add a dimension of coverage that Vince Williams just can’t provide. He can also slide outside and rush the passer, which could be in even greater demand. Shazier is a special talent, and that is going to show up very early in his career.