The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 5 Biggest Red Flags Heading into 2014

Pittsburgh Steelers: The 5 Biggest Red Flags Heading into 2014

Mike Tomlin
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a difficult team to get a feel for as the 2014 season rapidly approaches. There's talent on both sides of the ball, but also some concerning questions that must be answered. Here are the team's five biggest red flags heading into 2014.

5. High Bust Potential of Rookie Class

Stephon Tuitt
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

5. High Bust Potential of Rookie Class

Stephon Tuitt
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers nabbed a rookie class with no shortage of potential, but also a fairly low floor in May's draft. The team's first four picks -- Ryan Shazier, Stephon Tuitt, Dri Archer and Martavis Bryant -- are all boom-or-bust type prospects. It's hard to envision the group not being a huge success or huge failure.

4. Ike Taylor Still Starting

Ike Taylor
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

4. Ike Taylor Still Starting

Ike Taylor
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback Ike Taylor's experience and leadership has earned him another season as a stater in Pittsburgh. But after a miserable 2013 campaign, in which he conceded the most receiving yards in the entire NFL, Taylor should be on a short leash in the Steelers' secondary.

3. Suspect OT Tandem

Kelvin Beachum
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

3. Suspect OT Tandem

Kelvin Beachum
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Neither left tackle Kelvin Beachum nor right tackle Marcus Gilbert were necessarily bad last season, but neither has yet to validate himself as a quality starter. Both remain question marks heading into 2014, which offers quarterback Ben Roethlsiberger little assurance that he'll have better protection.

2. Leaky Run Defense

Ryan Shazier
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

2. Leaky Run Defense

Ryan Shazier
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers allowed 115.6 rushing yards per game on defense in 2013. Improvement is far from a guarantee after Ryan Shazier, a highly athletic linebacker who struggles to disengage from blocks, was picked up in the draft's first round. Shazier will likely start come Week 1. The Steelers have historically been a stingy team versus the run, but don't project to be for the second season in a row.

1. Tough Division

Steelers vs. Bengals
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

1. Tough Division

Steelers vs. Bengals
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Steelers remain a talented squad capable of getting back to the postseason in 2014, the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens will make that task a challenge. The Bengals remain one of the league's most complete teams while the Ravens seemingly acquired some instant contributors during the draft. The winner of the AFC North will have surely earned it.


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