In the past, Pittsburgh Steelers have had the luxury of allowing their top NFL Draft picks mature for a season or two before being called on to contribute. However, after going 8-8 last season and losing several veterans to free agency, they may have to rely on rookie starters more than they have in the past, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Gazette notes that the Steelers have not had a rookie starter since Maurkice Pouncey debuted at center in 2010. However, the Steelers selected Jarvis Jones, Le'Veon Bell and Markus Wheaton with their first-, second- and third-round draft picks, respectively, to fill major positions of need.
Jones will compete with Jason Worilds for James Harrison's vacated role at outside linebacker. SB Nation's James Brady suggest that Worilds will likely start at the beginning of the 2013 season. Jones will see plenty of playing time, however, and should take on an increased role as the season progresses.
Bell, meanwhile, may be expected to be the outright starter from Week 1. Rashard Mendenhall is gone, and Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman were incapable of taking over the starter's role despite ample opportunities last season. Bell was taken in the second round, and was the second running back off the draft board. It's clear that the Steelers have high expectations for the Michigan State product.
Wheaton gives the Steelers some much-needed depth in the wide receiver corps. He will compete with Emmanuel Sanders to be the No. 2 wideout opposite Antonio Brown. Wheaton's speed and 5'11 frame puts him in the same mold as Mike Wallace. If he develops, Wheaton could be used in similar ways.