The Pittsburgh Steelers made the playoffs again last year and expectations remain high. But after coming up short against the New England Patriots Bay in the postseason, the Steelers need a few players to have breakout seasons to complete their goal of another Super Bowl title.
Breakout seasons happen every year in the NFL. Sometimes, the player in question makes the leap from very good to superstar. Sometimes, a player goes from role player to key starter. So who will be the breakout players for the Steelers in 2017? We've put together five of the most likely candidates below.
WR Martavis Bryant
This one might be cheating. Bryant has proven his ability in the past, with 76 catches, 1,314 yards and 14 TDs in 21 games. He didn't play at all last year but is now back after a suspension. Antonio Brown will continue to draw plenty of attention, allowing Bryant to serve as the big-play threat. The main question is how Bryant will fare after missing an entire year, but the talent is still there. Getting a healthy and productive Bryant makes an already dangerous Steelers offense even better.
CB Artie Burns
The Steelers wanted William Jackson III in the first round last year, but the Bengals snagged him one pick before. So the Steelers ended up with Burns instead and he might end up better than Jackson, who was hurt all year. Burns started three games last year, picking off three passes. Now in his secondary year, the Steelers are banking on Burns taking another step forward. Pittsburgh envisions Burns as the No. 1 corner of their future and for him to make a leap in his development.
S Sean Davis
Burns was the first round pick last year and Davis was the second rounder. He lined up at multiple spots, including nickel corner, before heading to safety. He'll be there again this year and is primed for a breakout season. Davis will have an entire offseason at safety and that will benefit him. He fared better after moving there during the season and should play even better in 2017. The Burns-Davis duo has the potential to be one of the best in the AFC.
OLB Bud Dupree
James Harrison doesn't seem to age, but it's Dupree who is expected to be the Steelers top pass rusher soon. He was close last year, finishing with 4.5 sacks in less than half a season due to injury. Now full healthy, Dupree is prepared to supplant Harrison as the Steelers' top pass rusher. He has 8.5 sacks in his career and don't be surprised if he eclipses that figure this year.
LB Vince Williams
The Steelers let Lawrence Timmons walk in free agency this year and didn't replace him. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert has already said he's confident in Williams as the starter next to Ryan Shazier, but there's no doubt he'll need to up his play. He started a handful of games last year, but was mostly a backup. He had 40 tackles and two sacks in his fourth year in the NFL, but those numbers need to take a big leap forward with Timmons gone.Back to the Pittsburgh Steelers Newsfeed