The Pittsburgh Steelers need help at linebacker. Pretty much everybody who knows much about anything knows about this. There is a glaring hole especially at the inside linebacker position due to a catastrophic injury that robbed them of a Pro Bowl player at the spot, whose injury drastically reshaped the defense.
They might not be the only team in the league with help at linebacker—the position is almost always drafted high in the draft, as evidence of that—but they certainly are one of the teams near the top of the list.
In the NFL Network’s case, the Steelers are literally near the top of the list. specifically, the list of the five teams most in need of help at linebacker, according to former Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who certainly had his day giving the Steelers fits.
— NFL (@NFL) March 5, 2018
“Ryan Shazier—that injury was obviously one of the things in football that we don’t want to see, but with him being out right now, and the way that the Jacksonville Jaguars were able to run on them, and a couple of other teams when the injury went down, they have to solidify that position”, Jones-Drew said, putting him at number two in the top-five list. “They have to find a guy that can come in, be a run stopper, a plugger, as well as play that Cover 2 system and get deep”.
Yes, the hole as the mack linebacker spot vacated by Shazier, whom the Steelers have already said will not play this year, and who realistically may never play again, is the elephant in the room. But he’s not the only spot where they could use, or at least consider, an upgrade.
Fourth-year outside linebacker Bud Dupree is facing a critical season in which he has to prove that he can be a quality every-down starter at his position, which is something that he has not done in his first three seasons. If the opportunity arises for them to draft a great prospect for his spot, they will not overlook it for his sake.
There is always the possibility of upgrading the buck inside linebacker position as well, though that is less likely. The only player who is safe is T.J. Watt, last year’s first-round pick and a full-time starter at right outside linebacker, whose seven sacks was the second-most by a rookie in team history.
While the Steelers were second on the list, it was the Raiders who topped it. With Aldon Smith’s latest arrest and the expectation of losing NaVorro Bowman, they clearly have a need as well. The Chargers, Colts, and Bengals rounded out the top five list.