The Pittsburgh Steelers shocked many in the 2021 season as they were able to make the playoffs with an extremely young roster and an aging quarterback clearly in his last season. Stars like edge rusher TJ Watt and defensive linemen Cameron Heyward really helped keep the team afloat before ultimately losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Wild Card Round.
Now, with a new quarterback under center, the Steelers move into a brand new era. There will be loads of opportunities for young players as well as new veterans to come in and have a breakout season in 2022. Who will be the ones that achieve such a feat? Here are three potential candidates.
Steelers Breakout Players for 2022 NFL Season
Kevin Dotson was arguably the Steelers’ best offensive lineman in the 2020 NFL season. Dotson registered a 66.2 grade from PFF that season, while only getting penalized three times and not letting up a sack all season.
2021 saw Dotson deal with injuries and overall not be able to replicate that same season, with five penalties and three sacks allowed. The Steelers have overhauled much of their line and with the potential Dotson has, he is a perfect candidate to showcase how good he actually is.
The Steelers will have one of the youngest offensive lines in the entire NFL, and they will be leaning on Dotson to have a massive season, protecting that left side.
2. LB Devin Bush
This season will be a make-or-break year for Steelers linebacker Devin Bush. Bush was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft but has not lived up to expectations. A large reason for that has been injuries, as Bush suffered a torn ACL in the 2020 NFL season and has not looked like the same player ever since.
The Steelers have struggled at the inside linebacker positions ever since they lost Ryan Shazier to a tragic injury. However, with the signing of former pro bowl linebacker Myles Jack in free agency, Bush now has a partner on the inside who could take a lot of pressure off of him and allow him to be the player that the Steelers thought they were getting when drafting him.
After not picking up his fifth-year option, the Steelers have made it clear that this season will either be Bush’s final year in Pittsburgh, or he is set for a massive payday in the offseason.
1. WR Chase Claypool
Chase Claypool had one of the best rookie seasons in recent Steelers memory. Claypool delivered 873 yards in his rookie campaign and showcased his ability to win practically any contested catch.
However, last season saw him plateau instead of improving like many fans hoped he would. That plateau might not be strictly his fault, as Ben Roethlisberger was getting the ball out in record time. Claypool is a receiver who needs a bit of time to gain separation and make the deep down the field play. Now with either Kenny Pickett or Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback, Claypool may have more time to be able to set up his routes and go back to being that deep threat receiver he was in college.
With wide receiver Diontae Johnson looking for a massive payday, the Steelers may trade or simply allow Johnson to walk in free agency if they get a breakout season from Claypool.