I have over the course of the past several seasons turned to a series of articles around this time of year in which I looked to explore the issues and questions facing the Pittsburgh Steelers during the upcoming season and trying to identify the range of possibilities in which any given scenario can end.
I started out with a dual series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take and switched last season to the Devil’s Advocate series. In an attempt to find a more streamlined solution with a title more suited to the actual endeavor, we are introducing a simple Buy Or Sell segment exploring whether the position statement is likely to be worth investing in as an idea.
The range of topics will be wide, from the specific to the general, exploring broad long-term possibilities to the immediate future of particular players. I will make an argument for why a concept should be bought into as well as one that can be sold, and you can share your thoughts on which is the more compelling case while offering your own.
Topic Statement: The Steelers’ first-round draft pick will be an inside linebacker.
Simple question, simple answer. The odds definitely favor the Steelers’ first-round draft pick being an inside linebacker. The position is frequently one that tends to be valued less than others, and as a result players are more likely to fall.
Pittsburgh’s biggest need, arguably, is also inside linebacker. Not only is Jon Bostic an unproven commodity, Vince Williams is also in the final year of his contract currently, and is not exactly a Pro Bowler.
There is clear need there, and there is a strong likelihood that there will be at least one of two or three inside linebackers that are worthy of consideration at the position. Rashaan Evans and Leighton Vander Esch have been the most popular names, but Tremaine Edmunds is one that could potentially slide, given the polarity of opinions around him.
There is the need, and there is the availability, but there are also all of the other options. The odds might be good that the first-round pick is an inside linebacker, but when considering all of the other reasonable approaches available to the Steelers, the odds are probably better that another position is taken.
There will be candidates at quarterback, running back, tight end, safety, and cornerback to consider as well. Even offensive line, as Mike Tomlin mentioned during his pre-draft press conference. I don’t have access to the Steelers’ board, but I doubt an inside linebacker is on the top of the list as being the best athlete in the class.
There are simply too many times that we have thought we have known what a team is thinking only to be proven entirely wrong. To lock into one position so late in the first round is not giving yourself the best chance of being correct.