Pittsburgh Steelers June Scouting Report
The Steelers report to training camp in approximately a month on July 27th. There first preseason game is in the Meadowlands against the Giants on August 11th. Currently two free agents have yet to sign. RB LeVeon Bell has not signed his franchise tender looking for a long term deal. Starting left OT Alejandro Villenueva has not signed his exclusive rights tender. Villenueva still participated in OTAs and minicamp. Bell was absent. Villienueva has very limited leverage although the front office seems amenable to working something out so he is paid more than the just over $600K that he is owed.
QB: The expected return of WR Martavis Bryant and addition of second round rookie WR JuJu Smith-Schuster should help QB Ben Roethlisberger. In redraft leagues he remains a solid starting quarterback option. Roethlisberger had nothing but praise for Bryant after off season workouts which was probably to be expected. There was some talk immediately after the draft that fourth round QB Josh Dobbs would be given a chance to win the backup job over QB Landry Jones. That seems highly unlikely. Jones was resigned specifically as the backup with Dobbs looking more like a developmental project.
RB: Earlier most in the media thought Bell would be signed to a long term deal. That does not seem as certain now. The beat writers don't think Bell will hold out, eventually signing his over $12M tender if necessary. Keep an eye on the situation, but Bell clearly looks like the first or second pick for fantasy purposes basically in a flat out tie atop draft lists with RB David Johnson. The hope is third round rookie RB James Conner will win the backup job. Giving workhorse Bell a bit more of a breather on a game-by-game basis is the goal. RB Knile Davis should contribute mainly as a kick returner.
WR: Can Bryant stay clean and on the field? If so then adding him and Smith-Schuster to top WR Antonio Brown should be a boon. Counting on Bryant seems dubious at best. WR Eli Rogers should still get an opportunity to contribute from the slot. His lack of explosiveness will likely lead him to losing snaps if the other receivers stay healthy. WR Sammie Coates hopes to bounce back from an injury plagued season in which he played through multiple hand and groin injuries. Coates is expected to be fully recovered from off season groin surgery by camp. WR Justin Hunter was signed mostly as depth.
TE: Roethlisberger worked extensively with TE Jesse James in spring practices in the red zone. The Steelers are hoping James will be more aggressive to better utilize his size. The front office is reportedly high on the upside of TE Xavier Grimble. He needs to be more consistent.
K: Last year was a disappointment for PK Chris Boswell especially from a fantasy perspective. Boswell finished 22nd among kickers in scoring and failed to reach triple digits by a single point.
DEF/ST: Barring an injury to NT Javone Hargrave, DE Cameron Heyward or DE Stphon Tuitt the line should be stellar. All are not only solid at the point of attack, but can also cause disruption in the backfield. OLB James Harrison in mini camp tutoring first round rookie OLB TJ Watt and OLB Bud Dupree was a sight to behold. Getting more pressure on the quarterback would definitely help in the development of CB Artie Burns, S Sean Davis and rookie third round CB Cameron Sutton. Keeping ILB Ryan Shazier healthy will be important with ILB Lawrence Timmons off to Miami. ILB Vince Williams should be solid enough against the run. Neither he nor any of the other inside backers has the athleticism to step in for Shazier.
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