On Monday evening, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock visited the campus of Saint Vincent College to take in the festivities of Steelers Training Camp. Mayock is no stranger here as well, since he was the team’s tenth-round pick in the 1981 NFL Draft as a safety out of Boston College. He had a few observations of the team, and just like the other 31 franchises around the league, no team is perfect, even ones like New England who just hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
This current Steelers team has it’s deficiencies, mainly on the defensive side of the ball, as the offense is littered with All-Pros like center Maurkice Pouncey, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell, as well as budding players with Pro Bowl potential like receiver Martavis Bryant and guard David DeCastro. The unit is commonly regarded as arguably the most potent offense in the league outside of Green Bay and for good reason. Mayock agreed, citing the overall potential of this group as a major reason they should be one of the final teams left standing when all is said and done come playoff time. In a way, they compare favorably to the Colts of the 2000s, with an explosive offense and a pedestrian defense. The current defense has the pieces, especially with four first-round picks at the linebacker spots, it’s just a matter of gaining the necessary experience and cohesion.
“Offensively I think their skill position group is as good as anybody in the league,” Mayock said, according to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “The Steelers and Green Bay have the best skill position players in the league. I like how their offensive line has continued to develop and I would love to see what the role for Dri Archer going to be.”
This is a question that has the minds of Steelers’ fans pondering as well, with his blinding speed and ability in the open field underutilized last season. If there’s one thing that would make this offense that much more dangerous is a threat like Archer fulfilling his potential and ability to hit pay dirt from anywhere on the field, be it from a few yards out on a swing pass or returning a kickoff from deep in his own end zone.
Like other pundits, Mayock cited the defense as an area the team needs major contributions from this season.
“It really comes down to the defense,” Mayock said, according to Varley. “I don’t think there is any doubt they are going to score points offensively, they have one of the best offenses in the league and should be one of the top three teams in the league in scoring.”
A major area he’s looking for improvement in is with the pass rush, with the addition of freakishly talented Bud Dupree in the first round, coupled with the promise and added bulk of 2013 first rounder, Jarvis Jones.
“Is Jarvis Jones, the first round pick from 2013, going to be a bust or is he going to be a player?” Mayock said. “The corners, I have no idea who is going to play for them. I love the trade for Brandon Boykins. He is a quality nickel that might get the chance to compete on the outside.”
All in all, if the defense can do a half decent job and allow the offense to perform up to expectations, Mayock feels the team will be just fine as it navigates the league’s toughest schedule.
“Defensively, when you dig in to it, can they get more pressure on the quarterback?” Mayock said. “They have to take the ball away and they have to pressure the quarterback.”