The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot riding on the 2018 NFL Draft when it comes to both their immediate and long-term future. Frankly, it’s rare that any team can ever say that’s not the case. Even for the teams who like to throw their money around in free agency, teams are still built primarily through the draft.
Compared to other teams, however, I don’t think I would say the Steelers have more riding on this draft than any other team. The Cleveland Browns, for example, have the opportunity to have a franchise-altering draft.
Former Baltimore Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick, though, does believe this year’s draft is more critical for the Steelers than it is for any other team, and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that his main sticking point was Ben Roethlisberger and the quarterback position.
While he doesn’t seem to have updated his intel in saying that Roethlisberger has been “making noises like maybe he’s ready to retire”, he did fairly point out that he is getting up there in age and that championship windows are primarily tied to the person throwing the football.
“We keep talking about windows, and is the window closing. Typically when you’re talking about is their window closing, you’re talking about what’s their quarterback situation”, he said. “Typically due to age. I can’t think of a team more paramount in that than the Pittsburgh Steelers”.
Again, I don’t know that that’s true either. No matter how Terrific Tom Brady is, or how long he plans on playing, it might not be as long as he thinks. The same can be said for Drew Brees and Eli Manning. These days, Roethlisberger takes as few hits as anybody, it is worth pointing out.
Of course winning a Super Bowl isn’t all about having a quarterback. You also need to stop the other quarterback. Billick thinks this side of the ball can be improved.
“Obviously stunning offense, but they just haven’t been able to take that next step. Why? Defensively. Now they got better defensively. Obviously losing Ryan Shazier really hurt them and knocked that defense off a little bit, but they can get better”.
In another seeming bout of dated intel, he said that the Steelers have success finding help off the edge in the later rounds, which really hasn’t been the case in a long time. Guys like Chris Carter and Anthony Chickillo have accomplished little. He also talked about cornerback help, though that is arguably the deepest position on the team.
“This group is poised to take that next step, but they’re going to have to hit in the draft”, Billick concluded. The question is, do they have to hit for 2018, or can they build for future success? Most believe they should approach with a win-now mentality, from what I’ve gathered.