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2022 draft completes near-total makeover of Steelers offense

It was once 16 months in the past that the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended.

It most certainly turns out like so much longer in the past than that,and no longer simply on account of the stunningly disappointing outcome, a 48-37 wild-card playoff loss to the rival Cleveland Browns.

The offensive lineup for the Steelers that Jan. 10, 2021, day is nearly unrecognizable to the one who will take the sector when the 2022 season opens in September.

And that near-total makeover of the offense that ushers within the Steelers’ post-Ben Roethlisberger generation was once undertaken largely by means of the movements of outgoing common supervisor Kevin Colbert’s ultimate two drafts on the helm. A yr after taking gamers who would change into rookie starters on offense with the primary 4 selections, Colbert once more interested by that facet of the ball within the 2022 draft that ended Saturday.

Quarterback Kenny Pickett (Spherical 1) and vast receivers George Pickens (Spherical 2) and Calvin Austin III (Spherical 4) are what the Steelers hope is a “splash play” triumvirate on offense for years yet to come. They’re added to the extra meat-and-potatoes crew (a workhorse operating again, tight finish, two linemen) the Steelers added a number of the most sensible 140 selections of remaining yr’s draft.

Put in combination, and that’s seven attainable new offensive starters taken prior to now two drafts. And that doesn’t even depend Saturday’s sixth-round select, Connor Heyward, who most probably will push for an early position as a good finish/H-back/fullback. Upload the ones younger gamers to 2 different potential starters at the inner line who had been signed all through loose company in March, and it’s been a nearly an entire turnover for the Steelers on offense since that unpleasant playoff loss to the Browns.

“I work with an edge this time of year, with a level of excitement that anticipates some newness,” trainer Mike Tomlin mentioned. “Whether that’s new people or whether it’s old people evolving in some way, we’re really excited about where we are and getting to work to kind of meet the challenges that await us.”

The ones 2020 Steelers began 11-0 and had been averaging 28.8 issues over the primary 10 video games. However they didn’t most sensible 28 issues the remainder of the common season, and because it ended, one contributor after any other has retired or departed.

Of the 18 gamers who took a minimum of one offensive snap for the Steelers all through their January 2021 playoff sport, handiest 5 stay with the crew.

Gamers who accounted for 73.6% of the mixture snaps performed on offense in that sport are not with the crew: Roethlisberger, middle Maurkice Pouncey, tight finish Vance McDonald and left take on Alejandro Villanueva officially introduced their retirements (the latter after enjoying 2021 for Baltimore), and guard David DeCastro hasn’t performed since and may quickly make his retirement legit. Receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud, operating again James Conner and guard Matt Feiler left by the use of loose company, and a handful of others stay unsigned.

The converting of the guard that has changed that crew most commonly has come by the use of the previous two drafts. Remaining yr’s added first-round operating again Najee Harris, second-round tight finish Pat Freiermuth, third-round middle Kendrick Inexperienced and fourth-round left take on Dan Moore Jr. All 4 began remaining season, and Harris and Freiermuth confirmed Professional Bowl skill (Harris was once decided on to the sport as an alternative).

If this yr’s offensive draft foursome of Pickett, Pickens, Austin and Heyward have equivalent rookie seasons, the Steelers will be ok with their long term on offense.

“I’m going to be excited about the youth,” offensive coordinator Matt Canada mentioned. “They’re prepared to paintings.

“I think we’ve got a real talented group, and we’re going to have a lot of fun getting them ready to go.”

The reasonable age of the Steelers’ beginning 11 on offense for the January 2021 playoff sport was once 28. 5 had been over 30.

It’s imaginable — most likely even most probably — that by the point they kick off the 2022 season, none in their offensive starters might be older than Diontae Johnson, who turns 26 on July 5.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Overview team of workers author. You’ll be able to touch Chris by means of e mail at cadamski@triblive.com or by the use of Twitter .

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