2018 Offseason Questions: Is Defense-Less Day 2 Defensible?

The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.

Question: Was the Steelers’ defense-absent second day of the draft a defensible approach?

Let’s face it, this is the topic most of us are railing on today. The Steelers presumably have one of the top offenses in the league. Sure, they traded away Martavis Bryant, and so they needed to address that hole, using their second-round pick on James Washington, whom they got to know quite well on the Pro Day circuit.

But then they used both of their third-round picks—even using a seventh-round pick to trade up—on two players that presumably are not even going to be in a position to compete for a starting spot for a couple of years. Quarterback Mason Rudolph is obviously a name that was talked about in the first round, but I’m not going to pretend that I knew who Chukwuma Okorafor was, and even Mike Munchak was surprised by the selection.

So let’s try to rationalize this. The Steelers lost Ryan Shazier in the offseason and parted ways with Mike Mitchell, creating two holes in the starting lineup. But they plugged those holes, remember? They used their free agency resources to add starters as well as depth at those positions.

Jon Bostic is a good player who is going to start in 2018, and perhaps beyond. This is the year he gets to audition for a more long-term role. Can he put together a complete season? Morgan Burnett is not a long-term answer, but Terrell Edmunds is, at least on paper.

They needed a wide receiver. They got one. They needed tackle depth after losing their swing tackle in Chris Hubbard, their only loss in unrestricted free agency. They got one of those too. Rudolph, they just couldn’t pass up when he was still available in the third round, and I understand that.

But there were better linebackers—both inside and outside—on the board when they took Okafor who are more likely to make some type of contribution in 2018. Do the Steelers feel good about the day three depth at these positions? I would imagine so. But they now only have three picks left with which to address them…and defensive tackle as well.

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