In an effort to demonstrate that they are not inflexible and unwilling to reevaluate their own work, Pro Football Focus has been going over their team by team depth chart grades recently and amending them to reflect new developments or new information.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have not been immune to this revision process, as their depth chart now reflects a few changes from its original publication.
In their original depth chart, the site had Steelers tight end Heath Miller listed as just an “Average Starter”—at the time one of six average starters on the offensive side of the ball—but upon reflection, he has been upgraded.
They write about his bump up to “Good Starter”: “2013 wasn’t his best year, but then tight end Heath Miller was also coming back from an injury which surely didn’t help his performance. When we looked back at 2012, only one tight end had a higher receiving grade than Miller’s +14.0 in that regard so a bump up to ‘Good Starter’ felt fair”.
Considering the parameters of the evaluation, I would also conclude that the new grade is fair. There’s little question that Miller had more than his fair share of struggles last season due to his knee, but his previous body of work, and legitimate reason for optimism about the future, further removed from the knee injury, suggest that “Good Starter” is the right place for him as of July 2014.
Unfortunately for another Steeler, he has been downgraded to “Poor Starter”, and that would be one of the newest Steelers: wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. I find this somewhat hard to argue, given his failures in Oakland and ultimate demotion last season with the Colts.
The reality is that he is a former first-round pick on his third time now relying on veteran-minimum contracts well before he turns 30. Considering the circumstances that he placed himself in last season with his dropped passes, he put himself in this predicament, and he must escape it. It might not be entirely unfair given where he currently stands.
With one upgrade and one downgrade, there is one last change, and that is the removal of a grade.
Earlier in the offseason, when PFF projected the quality of each team’s starting lineup, they listed Markus Wheaton’s grade as “Not Enough Information”. That changed to “Below Average Starter” when they did their depth charts.
But they have reverted back to reason and determined that there still is not enough information from which to evaluate Wheaton. He received such little and sporadic playing time, not to mention dealing with injuries, that there is no sound basis upon which to judge him at this current time.
Overall, their alterations seem at least fair, if not insignificant. Of course, their evaluations hold no significance to the organization, and certainly don’t dictate how they will perform in the future, but it can still be used to foster some constructive discussions.