No matter how good your team may be doing, there will always be a vocal cross-section of the fan base that, at any given point during the season, is already looking at who their favorite team should be drafting the following spring.
The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base is certainly no exception, and, though they finally went 11-5 and won their division, even the most diehard fan could not deny that the organization has some holes to fill.
While the offense improved, and is on an upward trajectory, there are still tweaks to be made, and successors to be found. The defense has struggled, and is switching coordinators, which may call for a slightly different type of player.
So we’ll take a look at the Steelers roster position by position in the early offseason to determine how each group stacks up in terms of draft need. The next position to go under the microscope will be the interior offensive line.
Maurkice Pouncey: Entering his prime? That’s a hard thing to say for a player who has been to the Pro Bowl every year he’s been healthy. But it’s a thought one has to consider when reviewing his most recent tape, because 2014 may have been Pouncey’s best season yet in the NFL. Solid in both pass protection and as a run blocker, it’s his rare mobility from the center position that makes him a special player, to say nothing of his football intelligence.
David DeCastro: May not quite be what we’ve all been hoping for, but he’s not far from it, and it shouldn’t take much for him to get there. DeCastro has all the tools necessary to become a Pro Bowl player—not to mention the teammates and coaching staff around him to facilitate his development—such that it would be a disappointment if he doesn’t make it to Hawaii. He looks physically weak at times against a strong interior and occasionally gets lost in space. Overall, he just needs to be more consistent.
Ramon Foster: Regressed this past season. Foster suffered an injury early on, which may have lingered for much of the year, but he was a far cry from what he showed in 2013, during which he was the team’s most stable and consistent performer along the line.
Cody Wallace: Was the injury replacement for Foster, and he struggled, even while the team played well around him. He showed much better as a center at the end of the 2013 season than he did as a guard in 2014, which is not his natural position.
Chris Hubbard: Could be a player to watch. The Steelers liked him as an undrafted rookie in 2013, and saw enough in him to carry him on the roster in 2014 as the eighth lineman. He only played very briefly during the regular season. One wonders if he is a candidate to inherit Foster’s spot in a year or two.
Draft Strategy: At a bare minimum, the Steelers are hoping that they have at least two entrenched starters here for years to come, with one already under a long-term contract. Foster’s long-term future is clearly more variable. Foster will turn 30 shortly after the next season, and is in the last year of a three-year deal.
Depth-wise, there doesn’t appear to be any immediate need with Wallace and Hubbard. I don’t consider this much of a draft need at this time. If they attack the offensive line, I think a tackle would be far more likely.