While the Pittsburgh Steelers ranked highly in Sports Illustrated’s ranking of “defensive triplets,” they don’t have nearly the same amount of respect when it comes to their offensive triplets.

Pittsburgh’s trio of Russell Wilson, Najee Harris, and George Pickens was ranked 25th in the NFL by Matt Verderame. He writes that the Steelers are still “severely limited” on offense despite upgrading from Kenny Pickett to Wilson. Last season, the Steelers ranked 26th, so they get just a one-spot bump ahead of 2024.

“The Steelers improved this offseason by getting rid of Kenny Pickett and replacing him with Wilson. However, the offense remains severely limited because of Wilson’s continued decline since leaving the Seattle Seahawks in 2022. Additionally, Pittsburgh declined Harris’s fifth-year option. It’s largely on Pickens to carry this group to respectability.”

Just because the Steelers declined Harris’ fifth-year option doesn’t mean he isn’t a good player or not capable of having a productive season, but it seems as if the idea of Wilson’s decline inflates the ranking. Wilson is coming off two of the most challenging seasons of his career with the Denver Broncos, and he certainly struggled, particularly in 2022. But with Arthur Smith leading the charge offensively, Wilson could see a little bit of a resurgence in an offense that Smith can tailor to his strengths.

Smith’s offense also should rely on the run game, and both Harris and Jaylen Warren should be in line for big seasons, especially with a revamped offensive line. While the offense as a whole still needs some work, particularly at receiver, the Wilson/Pickens/Harris trio ranking No. 25 by SI feels a little low.

Pickens broke the 1,000-yard mark last season, and he’s entering 2024 as the clear-cut WR1. With an upgrade at quarterback, he could see a jump in his numbers again, but the concern is whether or not he’ll see extra coverage, given the Steelers’ other weapons at receiver are a little bit underwhelming. But the team could add to the room, and even if they don’t, the guys they do have got some praise for how they’ve looked in OTAs, which isn’t something to read too much into but is still worth noting. Even though the talent doesn’t seem great, guys like Van Jefferson, Quez Watkins, and Scotty Miller are still NFL wide receivers, and the defense can’t ignore them completely.

With rookie Roman Wilson also in the mix at receiver, Pickens should be able to overcome whatever concerns there are about him seeing extra coverage and having a strong season. On The Depot Dive, my hot take was that he could be an All-Pro, and there’s a very real path for that to happen in 2024.

Ultimately, Pittsburgh’s trio ranks a little bit too low here, and Wilson is getting discredited a bit due to how the last two seasons looked. A change of scenery and new offensive coordinator should help Wilson return to form, elevating the offense as a whole.


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