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 final group to go under the microscope will be the specialists.
Shaun Suisham: The most reliably accurate kicker in team history. Suisham’s maximum range is far from impressive, but keep him inside of 50 yards and he’s liable to make it. Two of the field goals that he missed were from beyond 50, but he did hit one from 53 yards.
Suisham will also not reliably kick the ball out of the back of the end zone on kickoffs, though he can get it there. He places the ball well for the coverage unit to get to the returner in time.
Greg Warren: Some might wonder why the Steelers don’t try harder to find a replacement long snapper for Warren already, who is one of few players left on the team to have two Super Bowl rings. This question is typically successfully answered whenever we get a chance to watch a team try to play without their starting long snapper. When you have a good one, you keep him. Saving a couple hundred thousand in cap space is not worth snapping the ball over your punter’s head.
Brad Wing: He’s back on the roster as an exclusive rights free agent signing, but that doesn’t mean he’s a shoe-in to be the Steelers’ punter in 2015. His punting average was well below, and hit net was improved only be strong play from his gunners. He has to improve and beat out superior competition this year.
Richie Leone: Evidently one of hopefully more than one competitor for Wing’s job. A Ray Guy Award semi-finalist, Leone averaged 43.2 yards per punt in college. He was signed by the Ravens, but could not unseat their veteran at the position.
Draft Strategy: The Steelers are happy with their kicker and punter. Given that they traded up to draft a punter within the past decade, however, I can’t completely dismiss the possibility that the Steelers do use a draft pick on a special teams position during the upcoming draft. Considering their recent history with punters, it may not sound like such a bad idea, though they do need a lot of help through the draft on special teams.