A new series on Steelers Depot to get us through the offseason. As the title implies, we’re explaining the role of players on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster. Beyond just starter, backup, or special teamer, we’re describing what their ideal role and contribution to the team in 2023 will be.
We’ll continue with TE Connor Heyward.
TE Connor Heyward – Core Special Teamer + Seam/Boot Offensive Chess Piece
Heyward is heading into his second season and should have an enhances role, though he won’t be an everydown player in the Steelers’ offense. Where he should be a full-time starter is on special teams. He logged 284 snaps there as a rookie, almost two-thirds of the team’s total, and had nine tackles on the season.
With Pittsburgh shedding several special teamers, LBs Marcus Allen and Robert Spillane along with RB Benny Snell and FB Derek Watt, a guy like Heyward can step up all the more. He bought into that phase of the game and represented himself well there. There’s every reason to believe Heyward will be a four-phase special teamer in 2023, playing as many if not more snaps there than he did a year ago.
Offensively, Heyward’s role is a little less clear and consistent. With Watt gone, he should see more time at fullback than last year but he seems to still be part of the tight end room and will function there plenty of the time. He’ll likely be an off-ball tight end to work on split flow action as a blocker but should be an asset on bootlegs, too. Matt Canada’s offense will offer plenty of that, getting his quarterbacks on the move, with hopefully some “easy wins” in the flat. Guys like Heyward can benefit catching a hand of five-yard dumpoffs.
Beyond that, Heyward can also be a threat down the seam. He showed that multiple times late last season, making grabs downfield and over his head. In the finale, he caught three passes for 45 yards, including one great grab for 27 yards. There should be more of that this year. It won’t be consistent but it can be impactful and Heyward’s just a fun football player whose value comes through his versatility.
WHAT’S HIS ROLE? SERIES
WR Allen Robinson
LB Cole Holcomb
RB Jaylen Warren
FS Minkah Fitzpatrick
CB Levi Wallace
QB Mason Rudolph
C Mason Cole
WR George Pickens