The Pittsburgh Steelers' Most Under and Overrated Offseason Additions
The Pittsburgh Steelers rarely make major moves in the offseason other than letting go high-profile players when they feel it is time like with James Harrison.
As far as additions, the Steelers don’t normally go for any big names and prefer to pick up less expensive guys like Ryan Clark and William Gay more recently.
Here are the seven most underrated and overrated additions for the Steelers, including their own re-signings and undrafted free agents, and excluding actual draft picks.
Underrated: QB Bruce Gradkowski
Unfortunately for the Steelers, they have had to see what the team looks like without Ben Roethlisberger more times than they would probably want to.
Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch have been the team’s backup quarterbacks for the past few years. Though they have done a decent job, this past season really highlighted that it was time for a change. Both seemed to have a problem throwing the football more than 10 yards downfield, Leftwich ended up hurt, and the offense just completely stalled with either of them on the field.
It is expected for a team to be a lot worse without its starting quarterback, but the Steelers could have won all three of the games Roethlisberger missed in 2012 if they had even mediocre quarterback play.
Bruce Gradkowski is definitely an upgrade as the backup quarterback. Though he has been with four different teams in his seven-year career, he has been solid when given an opportunity to take the field. Gradkowski hasn’t started a game since 2010 with the Oakland Raiders, and I think we all hope he doesn’t need to start any games for the Steelers in 2013.
Overrated: OT Guy Whimper
Honestly, I haven’t really heard many fans actually say Guy Whimper was a great signing by the team. Maybe it’s better to say that I feel the Steelers themselves have overrated the player that Whimper is.
Though Max Starks did not want to come back as a backup with the team, I think most all of us would have rather had the Steelers bring him back instead of signing Whimper.
The only thing that Whimper has going for him is the fact that he is a veteran on a team that has absolutely no tackle depth on the roster. Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams are slated to be the starters, but if either suffers an injury, the team would be in huge trouble.
For Ben Roethlisberger’s sake, let’s hope Whimper never sees the field as a member of the Steelers as pass-blocking just isn't his strongest attribute.
Underrated: TE Matt Spaeth
I’ll be the first to admit that I really did not like when the Steelers re-signed Matt Spaeth mostly because he didn’t do much in his first stint with the team. As a backup for the Steelers, Spaeth never caught more than 17 passes in a season and had a total of five touchdown catches in his four seasons in Pittsburgh before leaving in free agency in 2011.
Since leaving for the Chicago Bears, Spaeth still hasn’t become much of an offensive threat, but he has greatly improved his blocking.
With Heath Miller uncertain to be ready to start the 2013 season, David Paulson was set to be the starter for Week 1. I do like Paulson, but he is nowhere near the blocker Miller and Spaeth are, and he will need to prove he can contribute more in the passing game.
Paulson will be given every opportunity to step up and take the starting spot in the absence of Heath. but Spaeth is not a terrible fallback guy if Paulson struggles in his second season.
Overrated: WR/KR Reggie Dunn
There has been a ton of attention given to Steelers undrafted free agent Reggie Dunn because of a reported sub-4.3 40 time according to Sean Michael Reynolds of Blocku.com at his pro day.
The Steelers could use someone to step up in the return game this season, and Dunn had five return touchdowns in his career in college with four coming in 2012. The only problem with that is that Dunn was purely a kick return specialist in college and not a punt return or offensive threat.
As a running back/wide receiver Dunn only had four other touchdowns in his career with none coming in his final season at Utah.
Dunn definitely will get a shot to prove he can do more than just return kicks, but he is probably a long shot to really make the roster. The Steelers can’t really afford to have a player taking up a roster spot just as a return specialist as they did a few years ago with Stefan Logan.
Underrated: G Ramon Foster
There was a strong feeling amongst fans that the Steelers would allow Ramon Foster to leave in free agency this offseason, and then the team surprised us all by re-signing him before free agency even began.
Foster never really gets the credit he deserves for being a solid starting offensive lineman for the Steelers and was one of two players on that line to not miss a game last season.
He can also play multiple positions on the offensive line and could kick out to right tackle in case the team is hit with injuries at that position.
Though the big names on the Steelers offensive line will be Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro, Ramon Foster should at least get recognition from Steelers fans for what he has done for the team.
Overrated: LBs Marshall McFadden and Brian Rolle
Marshall McFadden had a pretty good preseason for the Steelers last season, and he will look to continue that going into this year. Brian Rolle was a sixth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 and started 13 games that year for the team.
With the team leaning on Larry Foote again in 2013, there has been a ton of speculation on who will be the future at the middle linebacker position.
At one point it was Stevenson Sylvester, who now is a long shot to make the roster. Sean Spence, the teams’ third-round draft pick in 2012, may never play again after blowing out his knee in the preseason last year.
Most recently, it has been current sixth-round pick Vince Williams, who has been impressive so far and looks to be a lock for the roster.
Before Williams was drafted though, there had been a lot of talk about both McFadden and Rolle being capable of becoming starters for the Steelers. Both will have as good a shot as any to make the roster, but we will see who steps up in camp and proves to the Steelers to be the future.
Underrated: WR Emmanuel Sanders
The Steelers definitely thought about letting the New England Patriots take Emmanuel Sanders for their third-round pick in this past draft. With the thought of getting the draft pick, a lot of fans showed their frustration with Sanders and what he has done in his career so far.
Sanders has 94 receptions, 1290 yards and five touchdowns in his career to this point with the Steelers and will be looked upon to start in place of Mike Wallace, who left in free agency.
I think Sanders has underperformed to this point in his career and has had a fumbling problem, but that doesn’t mean he lacks the talent to step up. If the Steelers had let Sanders go, the team would have been left with Antonio Brown, Jerricho Cotchery and Plaxico Burress as the only receivers with any experience on the roster.
There is a question of whether or not the team will be able to sign Sanders to a long-term contract, but for the 2013 season, I feel he has been underrated in what he’ll bring the team. Will he become a star in the league? Maybe not, but I definitely see Sanders stepping up for the Steelers this upcoming season as least.