After months and months of impatient anticipation and speculation, Thursday night at long last began providing the answers to the questions facing the Pittsburgh Steelers and the other 31 teams around the NFL as they began collecting their new pieces to add to the puzzle that is the perennial quest for a championship.
I am talking, of course, about the acquisition of college football talent through the selection process of the NFL Draft, a now three-day media event that kicked off at 8 PM in Chicago last night, during which the first 32 new professional football players learned of their fate.
The 22nd player to learn the destination of his new home was outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who will now be spending his time in Pittsburgh after calling Georgia home and spending the past four years playing for Kentucky.
Dupree’s incorporation into the fold addresses a major need for the Steelers, who won their first division title a year ago for the first time since the 2010 season. Following the retirement of Jason Worilds and the delayed emergence of Jarvis Jones, the team is desperately lacking in pedigree after registering only 33 sacks a year ago amid diminishing overall pressure.
But getting pressure on the quarterback is certainly not the only thing the Steelers need to work on, as they have needs all over the map, some of which could be ideal day two opportunities, as Friday covers the second and third rounds of the draft.
The Steelers’ biggest remaining need is, by far, cornerback, which they were widely expected to address in the first round, until the draft ended up breaking in a different direction that favored the pass rusher.
The top remaining cornerback is Eric Rowe, but he figures to go early tomorrow, so if the team really likes him, they would likely have to trade up. But there are many other noteworthy cornerback options to be had on day two, including Jalen Collins, and I would be shocked if one of them is not taken.
The Steelers were fortunate last year to have a player of the caliber of Stephon Tuitt slide to them in the second round. A couple of offensive tackles sliding or an Eddie Goldman could be tempting based on value.
A couple of other interesting names on the board that I would be remiss not to mention are tight end Maxx Williams and safety Landon Collins, both of whom would offer enticing value if they should happen to fall all the way to late in the second round, where the Steelers hold their next pick.
Tight end is a need that can be addressed later, however, and the Steelers figure to have their safeties in place. Failing a cornerback in round two, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me to see Pittsburgh opt for a wide receiver, as this remains a rich and deep class. Jaelen Strong is a name that they are familiar with after bringing him in for a pre-draft visit, and he remains available, though likely not for long. The same could be said for Dorial Green-Beckham.