Steelers' Biggest Questions to Answer in 2023 NFL Preseason
The Pittsburgh Steelers have two clear positional questions to answer over the next month.
First, the coaching staff needs to figure out if first-round pick Broderick Jones is ready to start at left tackle in Week 1.
The 22-year-old was selected to improve the protection around Kenny Pickett, but he must prove he deserves the Week 1 start against Nick Bosa and the San Francisco 49ers.
Then, the Steelers need to sort out their inside linebacker depth chart. They recently brought in Kwon Alexander to add more competition to the overhauled position.
Joey Porter Jr.'s role is secure, but how he progresses in preseason could be a difference-maker for the Steelers as they try to work their way up the AFC North standings.
Who Starts at Left Tackle?
The Steelers selected Broderick Jones in the first round to be Kenny Pickett's long-term pass protector, but he will have to earn his starting spot against incumbent left tackle Dan Moore Jr.
Steelers general manager Omar Khan told reporters at the start of training camp that the 22-year-old was there "for a reason," though.
Now, it's up to the Georgia product to transfer the raw strength and power that made him this year's No. 14 overall pick to the NFL.
The assumption is that Jones will claim the starting position at some point in 2023, but Moore will be in place in Week 1 if the rookie does not impress enough over the next month.
How Does Revamped Linebacker Room Look?
The Steelers revamped their inside linebacker depth chart in the offseason.
Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts and Tanner Muse entered training camp as the competitors for the starting spots, and Pittsburgh recently added Kwon Alexander to the group.
The inside linebacker competition will be closely watched throughout preseason because most of the other spots on the defensive depth chart are secured.
The Steelers know they will get pressure on the flanks from T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith and Cameron Heyward, but they need a reliable set of players on the inside to complement them.
Pittsburgh needs to get clarity on which players will start in Week 1, and the addition of Alexander suggests the coaching staff is not entirely confident in the group it had on the roster.
What Will Joey Porter Jr.'s Impact Be on Secondary?
A ton of expectation has been placed on Joey Porter Jr. to succeed in his rookie season.
The second-round pick is the son of former Steelers defender Joey Porter and is expected to go straight into a starting spot at cornerback.
A case could be made that the 23-year-old faces the most pressure of any defensive rookie given his situation in Pittsburgh.
His progression will be closely watched throughout preseason because he could be the key to the Steelers winning a few extra games in the AFC North, where the wide receiver depth grew with the Baltimore Ravens' offseason additions.
Pittsburgh has Patrick Peterson on the roster to help Porter navigate his first NFL preseason. The veteran could be one of the Steelers' most important assets on and off the field as he helps the Penn State product get adjusted to the NFL.