The Pittsburgh Steelers failed to make the postseason in 2019 due to a bevy of injuries. Most notably, the season-ending elbow injury that Ben Roethlisberger early last season derailed Pittsburgh’s quest for the playoffs before it even began.
Nevertheless, Roethlisberger is returning from injury in 2020 and the Steelers are confident in the personnel they have put together this offseason. Even though they’ve fallen short of the postseason in back-to-back seasons, Pittsburgh has quite a few players that have solidified their statuses as talented players in the NFL.
On the other hand, Pittsburgh has a few players on their roster that are poised to put their names on the map next season. In light of that, here are three potential breakout players for the Steelers in the 2020 season.
3. Chris Wormley
Earlier this offseason, the Steelers decided to allow Javon Hargrave to walk in free agency. Hargrave didn’t have to travel far from Pittsburgh, as he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
While Hargrave made his way to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh then chose to complete a rare trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Despite being AFC North rivals, the Steelers and Ravens finalized a trade that sent Chris Wormley to Pittsburgh. It’s evident that the Steelers hope Wormley can replace the production that Hargrave left behind.
As a third-round pick of the Ravens in 2017, Wormley has combined for only 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss in his first three seasons. However, with a starting role within his grasp for the Steelers, Wormley could become a key contributor for the black and gold next season.
2. Diontae Johnson
The news of Roethlisberger returning under center to the Steelers next season should be celebrated by the wide receivers in Pittsburgh. Amid Roethlisberger’s absence last season, the Steelers struggled to find any consistency at quarterback.
Both Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges received opportunities to start, with neither of them showing much potential. As a result of Roethlisberger’s return, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson should all see more success in 2020.
Of those names listed, Johnson has the potential to become a viable long-term option for the Steelers. Even with abysmal quarterback play in 2019, Johnson hauled in 59 passes for 680 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers could rise exponentially, even with rookie Chase Claypool competing for targets as well.
1. Benny Snell
Despite the fact that Roethlisberger is back, the Steelers understand they need to keep him upright. While strengthening the offensive line can help, running the ball can prevent the veteran signal-caller from taking more hits.
After an injury-riddled season, James Conner figures to assume the No. 1 spot in the backfield for the third consecutive season. But behind Conner, Benny Snell is awaiting an opportunity to show why he was Pittsburgh’s fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
In his rookie campaign, Snell rushed for 426 yards and two scores while sharing touches with Jaylen Samuels and Conner. As he embarks on his second season with the Steelers, Snell is poised to see an increased role in 2020 — and Mike Tomlin seems to agree with that sentiment.