The Pittsburgh Steelers entered yesterday’s first round of the 2017 NFL Draft with some significant ‘wants’ at key defensive positions, but I think it’s no secret that they have long valued the pass rush more than any other. They had options at multiple spots, but when their turn came in yesterday, they opted for their third outside linebacker in the first round in the past five drafts.
That takes a critical need off the board on Day Two, during which the Steelers uncharacteristically have three selections, courtesy of a third-round compensatory selection. The last time that Pittsburgh had more than two selections in the second and third rounds was in 2009, when they traded out of the second round to acquire a pair of third-round picks.
Having the leeway of an extra pick on Day Two opens up the box a bit for Pittsburgh here, and at least in small part because of that, I very much expect that they are going to address the offensive side of the ball at least once, if not twice, at tight end or wide receiver—or even running back, if the right one is there.
Three tight ends did come off the board in the first round of the draft, which may have been a marginal surprise, but Adam Shaheen and George Kittle are both available and could be targets today. I had Shaheen mocked to Pittsburgh in the third round, but there’s an awfully good chance he doesn’t make it that far.
The Steelers brought in a good number of wide receivers, some of which could fall in this window of the draft, perhaps most notably Chris Godwin, who may have to be a second-round pick, and Josh Reynolds, who could be available at their compensatory selection.
I was personally hoping that Pittsburgh would be able to address the cornerback position in the first round, but with such a deep class at the position, they will have another good opportunity to do so today in the second or even the third rounds. Even Chidobe Awuzie is still available, though it might be a stretch to think he could last to 62.
But Kevin King, Quincy Wilson, Shaquill Griffin, and—as much as some might not like to hear it—Rasul Douglas, among others could fall into their field of view today, perhaps with a favoring of those who can flex into the slot.
I think an extra safety or two made it out of the first round than many expected, as only thee were drafted, with Budda Baker and Obi Melifonwu remaining available. They very well may be early selections today, but Josh Jones may be a candidate.
Some inside linebackers to consider would be Zach Cunningham and especially Raekwon McMillan, an Ohio State product with whom, I believe, they met. McMillan’s visit was never confirmed but we know a few went without being fully documented, and I expect he is one of them.
Of course, you can never have too many pass rushers, and especially if the board breaks in a particular way, you can’t entirely discount the notion of doubling down and taking a Carl Lawson or Derek Rivers if they are still around at 62.