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CBS Sports ranks the Steelers' triplets 21st in the NFL

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Jared Dubin of CBS Sports recently ranked the top 32 triplets in the league and he has the Steelers' trio of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Najee Harris and wide receiver Dionate Johnson ranked 21st in the NFL.

"There's an argument to be made that Chase Claypool or JuJu Smith-Schuster should be listed as the pass-catcher here, but the relentlessness with which Roethlisberger targeted Johnson last season nudged us in his direction," Dubin wrote. "It was tough to tell whether his inefficiency was a result of his own talent or Roethlisberger's seeming inability or unwillingness to throw the ball downfield, but either way, it was not encouraging. Harris, meanwhile, is a terrific talent, but running behind a dramatically worse offensive line than what we've gotten used to seeing in Pittsburgh over the years."

From 2015-2017, the Steelers had the best triplets in the league with Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown -- also known as the "Killer B's." Fast forward to 2021, the Steelers have an aging quarterback, a rookie running back and a receiver who struggles with consistency. So, a 21st ranking among triplets isn't far off.

Johnson is the Steelers' best route-runner and Roethlisberger targeted him a hefty 144 times last year, and this was coupled with Johnson having issues with catching the ball, as he led the league in drops with 16.

It was a focus issue with Johnson, as he couldn't haul in the easy ones. He had a bad habit of running with the ball before securing the catch. According to Sports Info Solutions, 14 of Johnson's drops were within five yards of the line of scrimmage. To Johnson's credit, he did improve when it came to catching the ball late in the year after being benched by Mike Tomlin for most of the first half against the Bills in Week 14 after two drops.

Johnson's ability to get open consistently is why he should be ranked as the Steelers' best wide receiver. However, they all have a specific trait that makes them special and there really isn't a true No. 1 on the team.

That isn't the case at the running back position, as the Steelers are counting on Harris to be their bell-cow running back. The expectations are enormous for Harris in his rookie year and many believe that he needs to play at a Pro Bowl level to get the Steelers into the postseason in 2021. It's also a common belief that Harris' ability to succeed in Year 1 will have a big impact on Roethlisberger, as the future Hall of Famer is 39, and attempting 608 passes like he did last year wouldn't be a recipe for success.

Roethlisberger had no running game last year, as the Steelers finished last in yards per game (84.4) and yards per carry (3.6). They were a one-dimensional offense and relied on a quick dink-and-dunk passing attack that was figured out by defenses late in the year.

Now, this is where Harris comes in. They addressed their biggest need by getting the Alabama product. In addition, the Steelers have retooled their offensive line under the tutelage of new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, who's bringing an aggressive mindset to an offensive line that will have three new starters in 2021.

In addition, Matt Canada replaced Randy Fichtner as the team's offensive coordinator this offseason and he should bring more dimensions to the offense and be more of a creative play-caller.


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