2023 Steelers Post-Draft Roster Review: The Inside Linebackers
The major events of the 2023 NFL offseason are now complete. With the free agency period and the NFL Draft now behind us, we look ahead at how the Steelers roster has molded from the end of last season until now, and evaluate those changes heading toward training camp, the preseason, and the regular season.
Pittsburgh used to be all about their linebackers. They were the meanest, hardest hitting guys on the field. Anyone remember Jack Lambert? That was an “inside linebacker”.
When I go to the Steelers website, select roster and then sort by position and go to the linebackers, I see names like T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Both of these players are very good at what they do as outside linebackers. However, I am writing about the inside linebackers for the Steelers and there is not a lot of meat on that bone…
End of Season Depth Chart
Free Agency Review
The Steelers heavily targeted this position group by signing former Commanders LB Cole Holcomb and former Dolphins LB Elandon Roberts. In doing so, they said goodbye to the top of the depth chart from last year as Myles Jack, Devin Bush, and Robert Spillane were not-resigned.
Holcomb signed a three-year deal worth $18 million while Roberts took a two-year contract worth $7 million.
NFL Draft Review
Obviously the Steelers did not feel like a few of the top linebackers in the draft filled their needs, passing on the position entirely with all of their seven picks.
I believe Jack Campbell, who went in the first round to the Lions, will be a Pro Bowl caliber player. I also believe Drew Sanders, who went to the Broncos, will be a starter in the league. Yet, Pittsburgh went another route with free agency.
Post-Draft Depth Chart
When I read names like Tanner Muse, Mark Robinson, Tae Crowder, and Emeke Egbule, I have to admit, that lineup does not scare me. Worse yet, it concerns me greatly.
Last year the inside linebackers were the weak part of the defense. Is it possible this year they are even worse? If so, how do you cover that up? (Ryan Shazier is not going to play again and his replacement from Michigan was a bust.) I am not a hater, but does any Steelers fan really feel the team solved the problems that plague this part of the team? I don’t.
Training camp will determine which set of these linebackers are the starters. As it stands, these players are unambiguous to Steelers fans. What we do know is that the majority of them played for other teams and were not deemed worthy of another contract with that team. Cole Holcomb seems to be best the best bet to start. The Steelers gave him a healthy deal to come to Pittsburgh. But can he cover anyone? Time will tell.
Personally, I am pulling for Mark Robinson, but he is suspect in the passing game too.
With so many unknowns, all we have is hope. Maybe Omar Khan has another signing he has yet to do, or maybe a trade. (Veteran LB Kwon Alexander, for example, just visited the team.)
When it comes to position battles in training camp, this could be very interesting. Hopefully somebody that we have no idea about will stand tall and win. Otherwise, I believe we could be in for another rough season.