The Pittsburgh Steelers along with every other team, of course, are deep in the process of finalizing their draft plans, as the 2016 NFL Draft is set to kick off in just a few days. There has been rampant speculation—literally for months—as to who will become the newest Steeler on Thursday with the 25th overall pick in the draft, in particular.
And who that might be could very well be influenced by who ends up being drafted with the 24th overall pick in the draft, the spot owned by the Steelers’ AFC North rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals. While the Bengals have a fairly deep roster overall, especially in comparison to the rest of the league, some of their needs, or wants, will inevitably overlap with Pittsburgh’s.
One of the biggest areas of overlap figures to be along the heart of the defensive line, and even though the two team’s don’t employ the same base defense—the Bengals employ a 4-3 and the Steelers a 3-4, even though with Pittsburgh’s sub-packages they often run with a four-man front—some of the available talent will overlap.
The headline name just so happens to be a name that we have heard a lot about over the past couple months, and increasingly so in recent weeks as increasingly more beat writers—and even former players—begin to come on board. That name is Baylor nose tackle Andrew Billings, who would excel in either the Bengals’ or the Steelers’ scheme no matter how they differ.
The Bengals obviously have Geno Atkins, but Domata Peko will turn 32 during the season, which will be his 11th, and he will inevitably begin to be phased out as his production wanes. He had the fewest tackles in a full season of his career last season. While Billings might not immediately displace him in the starting lineup, he would certainly command a lot of snaps, so if the Steelers want him, they will have to hope he gets past the Bengals first.
Billings is not the only first-round target for either team, of course, nor is the first round the only round in the draft, and the Bengals will be drafting ahead of the Steelers in each of those rounds—excepting the fifth, in which Pittsburgh does not have a draft pick.
At each of these points, the Bengals will have an opportunity to take a prime player relevant to the Steelers’ interests off the board in just a pick or three (depending on the round, as they rotate) on a number of occasions throughout the three-day event, somewhat reminiscent to Pittsburgh and Baltimore during the 2014 draft.
Now, of course, Cincinnati is not going to simply draft a player because they think it will be at the Steelers’ disadvantage; obviously it will have to be a player that fits the Bengals’ roster and needs. A day-two wide receiver is another potential area of overlap for both. It should be interesting to compare and contrast these two draft classes at the end of the week.