After some strong additions in the early part of free agency, the Pittsburgh Steelers continued to solidify their roster through the 2023 NFL Draft.

The Steelers largely avoided offensive playmakers in the draft, instead focusing on bolstering their defense and the offensive line. First-round pick Broderick Jones will get playing time immediately at offensive tackle, while second-rounders Joey Porter Jr. (cornerback) and Keannu Benton (defensive line) also have good chances of earning a starting spot.

The other rookies might not be immediate starters, but they will provide the Steelers with much-needed depth and competition. Here are three veterans who will be pushed for playing time this year by the rookie class.

Steelers: 3 veterans whose roles will be pushed by rookies

Pat Freiermuth

Pat Freiermuth finished second on the Steelers with 63 receptions last season as calls of “Muuuuth” cried out from Pittsburgh football fans both at home and on the road. There is still plenty of space for Freiermuth to carve out in the Steeler offense, but he will be challenged for snaps by highly-anticipated rookie Darnell Washington.

Darnell Washington is a physical freak, standing 6-7, 264 pounds, with elite strength and excellent straight-line speed (4.64 40-yard dash time). He is essentially a bigger version of Seattle Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf. His blocking technique and route-running need improvement, but Washington feels like one of those players who will grow into his role as the season goes on — especially given the Steelers' reluctance to give rookies playing time right away.

While Pat Freiermuth is a big dude at 6-5, 258 pounds, he could cede snaps to the even bigger Washington in the red zone and short-yardage situations. The Steelers will also want this duo on the field at the same time with more two-tight-end formations.

T.J. Watt

Let's make this clear — Nick Herbig is not coming for T.J. Watt's job. In fact, he will be giving his fellow Wisconsin alum a much-needed break.

Other elite pass-rushers like Myles Garrett, Nick Bosa, and Haason Reddick all played less than 80% of defensive snaps last season, with Bosa and Reddick both around 74%. T.J. Watt played 83% of possible snaps in 2022 while dealing with injuries, while playing 86% or more in 2018, 2019, and 2019.

It has been a while since the Steelers had a worthy pass-rusher to give Watt a breather, but Herbig could be that guy. Herbig finished with 20 sacks over his last two college seasons, and more than a quarter of his career tackles came behind the line of scrimmage. There are concerns about Herbig's strength, but he has the quickness and pass-rushing moves to make an immediate impact in the NFL.

Gunner Olszewski

The Steelers brought in former New England Patriot Gunner Olszewski on a two-year, $4.2 million deal last year to provide a much-needed upgrade in the return game and the special teams unit as a whole. Instead, Olszewski fumbled twice in the first four weeks of the season, and the former Bemidji State Beaver handed over return duties to Steven Sims. Sims is now with the Houston Texans, but Olszewski is a Steeler — for now.

The primary candidate to take over as returner is undrafted free agent Jordan Byrd out of San Diego State. At 5-9, 170 pounds, Byrd is a bit undersized, but you can't argue with three career return TDs (three kickoffs, one punt) — which earned him first-team All-Mountain West honors. Expect the SDSU playmaker to get a long look in preseason.