The Pittsburgh Steelers have, by and large, been on an upward swing over the course of the past two and a half seasons after they missed the playoffs for two straight seasons, and failed to win a postseason game in four straight years.
Last season saw them gain that elusive playoff victory, though they came up short with about three minutes left in the Divisional round a week later. Their offense took off, and their defense improved, showing playmaking ability and opportunism.
But there are still a lot of unanswered questions facing the team as we crack into free agency territory. As an exercise, we like to take a stab at some of those questions, presenting arguments for the pros and cons of each side of the coin. This is the pessimist’s take on the following question.
Question: Should the Steelers address the wide receiver position during the 2016 NFL Draft?
The Steelers’ future at the wide receiver position got a whole lot more complicated during this offseason when it was announced that their third-year wide receiver, Martavis Bryant, would be suspended for the duration of the 2016 season, this after accruing a four-game suspension to begin the 2014 season.
The team has not been without a response to this. The three-year contract offered to Darrius Heyward-Bey was likely at least partly driven by this knowledge in order to secure some long-term depth. The receiving ability of free agent tight end addition Ladarius Green also has direct parallels in response to the Bryant news.
Of course, the organization acknowledged last year that the drafting of Sammie Coates in the third round was in large part an insurance policy about the long-term viability of Bryant as a member of the Steelers and his ability to stay out of trouble with the league.
Which means that they have already taken quite a bit of action in response to what they suspected could be coming in Bryant’s future, whether or not he ever plays another down for the Steelers or any other team, which is at least not currently guaranteed.
While the team has indeed looked at, or will look at, a couple of wide receivers among their pre-draft free agency visits as we draw closer to the draft, it would certainly not be a guarantee that they add an offensive player there.
In a year in which the focus must clearly be heavily defensive-minded, and following a season in which they just added a high-value wide receiver in Coates, wide receiver might rank toward the bottom of where an offensive addition might come in the draft this year.
For starters, they only have two quarterbacks currently on the roster that they have some level of comfort with. They have already looked at a couple of tackle prospects, and they have entertained a pair of valuable interior offensive linemen as potential free agent signings as well.
The running back depth is also thin, with only three names of much significance on the roster, and none of them currently under contract beyond the 2016 season. considering all of these factors, it might be difficult for the Steelers to draft a wide receiver this year even if they wanted to, unless the draft really falls in such a way that demands they do so—an unlikely outcome.