Projecting 2014 Stats for the Pittsburgh Steelers Free-Agent Class
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been unusually active in free agency this offseason, but what should be expected of their signings?
LeGarrette Blount, Lance Moore and Mike Mitchell all have clearly defined roles. What’s yet to be seen is how they’ll perform in them.
Others, like Cam Thomas and Arthur Moats, are expected to change positions and could see an uptick or a decrease in some statistics in turn.
Others still aren’t even assured of a roster spot. Will Darrius Heyward-Bey or Brice McCain land on the opening-day roster? If so, what can be expected of them?
Read on to find out the answers to these questions.
LeGarrette Blount: 120 carries, 550 yards, 6 touchdowns
LeGarrette Blount and Le’Veon Bell have the potential to be the Steelers’ most lethal rushing duo since Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier.
Of course, Blount should handle much of the goal-line and short-yardage work, but he’s shown the potential to tote the rock between the 20-yard lines as well. That much was evidenced when Blount ran for a mind-boggling 355 yards and six scores in the two games prior to the AFC Championship game.
Lance Moore: 50 receptions, 600 yards, 4 touchdowns
Signed to replace the departed Jerricho Cotchery, Lance Moore shouldn’t be expected to replicate the former’s 10 scores. Matching Cotchery’s 602 receiving yards, though, is a much more attainable goal.
Since 2008, Moore hasn’t posted less than 600 yards in a season in which he’s played at least 14 games. Presuming he can stay healthy and establish a rapport with Ben Roethlisberger in 2014, that’s about the production level fans should expect.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: 17 receptions, 240 yards, 1 touchdown
Whether or not Darrius Heyward-Bey even makes the final roster remains to be seen, but presuming he does, he’ll only have a limited role in Pittsburgh’s passing offense.
The speedster out of Maryland should be the recipient of a few deep targets (provided he hangs on to them), but little else should be expected.
Mike Mitchell: 80 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 interceptions
Once seen as a major draft reach, 2009 second-rounder Mike Mitchell finally lived up to his billing in 2013. Of course, some of that can be attributed to playing behind an exemplary front seven.
In Pittsburgh, Mitchell won’t be afforded that luxury. As a result, his tackle numbers should increase (Ryan Clark has posted at least 100 in each of the past three seasons), but at the expense of a few splash plays.
Cam Thomas: 30 tackles, 2 sacks
News from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac that the Steelers signed 330-pound Cam Thomas to play the five technique came as a surprise to many, but as of now he may be the team’s best option across from Cameron Heyward. Barring a Brett Keisel return, he’s easily the most experienced.
If Thomas earns the starting role, eye-popping numbers shouldn’t be expected. Like most other 3-4 defensive ends (J.J. Watt notwithstanding), Thomas’ impact should be seen more in the players behind him.
Arthur Moats: 40 tackles, 4 sacks
The versatile Arthur Moats has experience both inside and outside and the Steelers will likely use that to their advantage. It’s not out of the question that Moats could start over Vince Williams or Jarvis Jones either.
However, these projections assume that, as SBNation’s Neal Coolong suggests, Moats will primarily be a backup outside linebacker. If so, numbers on par with what Jason Worilds posted as the third outside linebacker are a reasonable expectation.
Brice McCain: 20 tackles, 1 interception
As with Heyward-Bey, Brice McCain is a free-agent signing whose spot on the team is not yet assured. Presuming he does land a spot on the final roster, he'll only be a fourth cornerback.
Even still, there’s no such thing as too many serviceable cornerbacks in today’s NFL. As that is the case, McCain should see some playing time and maybe even manage a pick or two.