As we get closer to training camp, it’s never too early to look ahead to what needs the Pittsburgh Steelers will need next season.
We still do not know who is actually going to be on the roster for this upcoming season however, there really should not be many surprises.
That leaves us a good barometer to predict what holes the Steelers are going to need to fill next offseason and here are the positions I see needing to be addressed.
On Current Roster: Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, Jonathan Scott, Kyle Jolly, Trai Essex, Ramon Foster, Kelvin Beachum, Willie Colon, Chris Scott
2012 Roster Prediction: Marcus Gilbert T, Mike Adams T, Trai Essex T, Willie Colon G, Ramon Foster G
The Steelers hope to have the tackles of the future in Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams however, what’s behind them is the question.
Of the remaining seven guys I have listed, Willie Colon is now a guard, Jonathan Scott will not make the team, and Trai Essex and Ramon Foster should make the team as backups at both guard and tackle.
That leaves Kyle Jolly, Kelvin Beachum and Chris Scott to battle for probably one more spot and both Beachum and Scott are more guards than tackles anyway.
The wildcard becomes whether or not the Steelers actually bring back Max Starks, which I think they will, although that still does not solve the problem of the depth at the position past just this upcoming year.
On Current Roster: Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch, Chris Rainey, John Clay
2012 Roster Prediction: Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch, Chris Rainey, (Rashard Mendenhall PUP)
I actually think the Steelers have a really good group of running backs and that there is a good chance they keep five backs on the roster.
That does not mean there are no questions though and the Steelers need to figure out if Dwyer has developed enough to allow the team to let Mendenhall walk after this season.
Chris Rainey is a rookie, Baron Batch is coming off an ACL injury and John Clay has 10 career carries, which leaves the only proven commodity at RB as Redman who is new to the starting role.
We will find out a lot about this group this season and the Steelers will either be set at RB or there will be a huge hole on the roster.
On Current Roster: Shaun Suisham K, Danny Hrapmann K, Drew Butler P, Jeremy Kapinos P, Matt Katula LS, Greg Warren LS
2012 Roster Prediction: Shaun Suisham K, Jeremy Kapinos P, Greg Warren LS
Steelers’ fans are pretty much done with Shaun Suisham. However, Danny Hrapmann is probably not going to really make a push for the spot and Greg Warren will win his battle as well.
The competition between Drew Butler and Jeremy Kapinos is going to be interesting, and although I have Kapinos winning right now, I could see the rookie winning the job.
The Steelers really need to find a more reliable kicker than Suisham, and hopefully this will be his last season with the team.
Another thing to think about is who will take over full time for Antonio Brown in the return game as he concentrates more on the receiver position.
On Current Roster: Lawrence Timmons, Larry Foote, Stevenson Sylvester, Sean Spence, Brandon Johnson, Mortty Ivy, Marshall McFadden
2012 Roster Prediction: Lawrence Timmons, Larry Foote, Stevenson Sylvester, Sean Spence
With James Farrior gone, this training camp will be Stevenson Sylvester’s shot at securing a starting spot alongside Lawrence Timmons.
Whether Sylvester actually wins the job or not he should still make the roster. However, next year is when this position is going to need to be addressed.
Larry Foote’s spot on this team rides entirely on how Sylvester does. If he steps up, then Foote will be gone after this season, and if Sylvester does not, then I could see Foote staying for one more year after this.
Even with the addition of Spence in the draft, the Steelers are not at all set at this spot and at best, they'll just need some depth, and at worst, they’ll need a starter.
On Current Roster: Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Will Allen, Ryan Mundy, Myron Rolle, Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith, Robert Golden.
2012 Roster Prediction: Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Ryan Mundy, Will Allen, Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith
The Steelers have one of the best pair of safeties in the league with Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu.
However, they are also both not getting any younger.
Ryan Mundy has been a decent backup at both safety positions, but the Steelers could use a definite upgrade at this position.
I am hoping that Will Allen is cut in training camp, although the Steelers may decide to keep a fifth safety for Week 1 because of Ryan Clark’s absence due to playing in Denver.
The safety position has a few good prospects coming out and the position has the potential to be the Steelers' No.1 pick in next year’s draft in my opinion.
On Current Roster: LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, Jason Worilds, Chris Carter, Brandon Hicks, Adrian Robinson, Ryan Baker
2012 Roster Prediction: LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, Jason Worilds, Chris Carter
The outside linebacker position was so decimated with injuries in 2011 that Lawrence Timmons was forced to move outside during the season.
Adrian Robinson will be one to watch in camp. However I would be surprised if the four that make the team is different from what I have here.
Chris Carter impressed me in his short time last season, but Jason Worilds can’t seem to stay healthy and James Harrison may not be here for too many more years.
If Worilds doesn’t show improvement this season, he will be gone and the Steelers will then need to find a real replacement for Harrison on the outside.