Projected 2015 starters: Pittsburgh Steelers


Around The NFL predicts the Week 1 starting lineups for all 32 teams, analyzing the potential impact of each rookie class. See every breakdown here.

Steelers Projected Starters
  Offense Defense
  QB Ben Roethlisberger DE Cameron Heyward
  RB DeAngelo Williams* NT Steve McLendon
  WR1 Antonio Brown DE Stephon Tuitt
  WR2 Martavis Bryant OLB Jarvis Jones
  WR3 Markus Wheaton ILB Ryan Shazier
  TE1 Heath Miller ILB Lawrence Timmons
  LT Kelvin Beachum OLB James Harrison
  LG Ramon Foster CB1 William Gay
  C Maurkice Pouncey CB2 Cortez Allen
  RG David DeCastro S Mike Mitchell
  RT Marcus Gilbert S Shamarko Thomas

» Before readers freak out: We have DeAngelo Williams in the starting spot only because of Le'Veon Bell's three-game suspension. That puts Williams on the spot to carry the load against the Patriots, 49ers and Rams to start the 2015 campaign.

» Pittsburgh plans to roll out a wave of new faces on defense. The startling retirement of Jason Worilds shook up the outside linebacker spot, where Jarvis Jones has yet to live up to his first-round pedigree with just three NFL sacks. "I still think he is one of the better linebackers in the league and he will be that," said Steelers assistant Joey Porter. Porter also said "the James Harrison (of before) is over," but I'm giving Harrison the starting nod over Arthur Moats, even if the two might wind up seeing equal snaps. The Steelers tend to bring defensive rookies along slowly, but Bud Dupree could see legitimate time for a unit searching for difference-makers.

» With future Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu calling it quits, Shamarko Thomas is penciled in to start across from Mike Mitchell. Plagued by ankle, Achilles' and hamstring woes, Thomas has just two pro starts over as many NFL seasons. He'll need to convince coaches he's up to the task.

» Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton are locked into the top three wideout spots, but keep an eye on third-rounder Sammie Coates. The Auburn product offers size, 4.43 speed and freaky combine numbers highlighted by his 41-inch vertical leap. Despite his 9.8 drop rate in college, Coates might be eased into the lineup as Bryant was last season. "Trust me, he has good hands," said Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert. "He has big-play ability."

» Heath Miller remains the top tight end, but whispers over Pittsburgh coveting tight end Maxx Williams in the draft make sense. It's time for the Steelers to develop a playmaker behind Miller. With Matt Spaeth as nothing more than a blocking tight end, we're monitoring the progress of fifth-rounder Jesse James, a 6-foot-7, 261-pound specimen out of Penn State.

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