An unusually busy offseason for the Steelers has not inspired much confidence in them returning to the playoffs among voters in ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings.
The Steelers have slipped from No. 14 to No. 17 in the rankings that were released Tuesday despite receiving strong reviews for their draft from ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. The Steelers are third in the AFC North behind the Bengals (No. 10) and the Ravens (No. 13). The Browns are last in the rankings despite (or maybe because of) drafting Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round.
The Steelers finished the 2013 season at No. 14 in the rankings after winning eight of their final 12 games and nearly sneaking into the playoffs.
Here is a breakdown of the Steelers’ voting:
Ashley Fox: 19
Mike Sando: 14
Kevin Seifert: 17
John Clayton: 13
Dan Graziano: 15
Jamison Hensley: 12
It would be silly to read too much into rankings in the middle of May with the start of training camps more than two months away. But clearly there is a perception that the Steelers have not done enough to re-build their defense following consecutive 8-8 seasons.