As we sit here on the eve of yet another draft, I thought it would be a good time to remind you that the Pittsburgh Steelers under Mike Tomlin have made it a bit of a pattern to add new toys for their new coaches to work with. It makes sense, after all. When you get a new set of eyes into the meeting room, you want the new blood to be able to work with players he’s scouted and ranked.
The Steelers have made three new additions to the coaching staff this offseason, including wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, defensive backs coach Tom Bradley, and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar. While it might be difficult to get new toys for all three, I frankly have yet to run a mock draft simulation in which that doesn’t happen.
Drake is taking over for Richard Mann, who after hitting 70 has chosen to retire, ending a five-year tenure in Pittsburgh. Dunbar relieves John Mitchell of on-field coaching duties, the longest-tenured member of the staff and a man who once coached him. Bradley was given way to by the resignation of Carnell Lake, who had been here since 2011.
Lake is probably one of the best examples of Head Coach Mike Tomlin having a fondness of making new coaches’ jobs easier by giving them new prospects that they have had a hand in evaluating. During his first season here, they used third- and fourth-round picks on cornerbacks Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen.
Scottie Montgomery was brought in as wide receivers coach in 2010 the year before Lake, and the Steelers used two selections there as well, taking Emmanuel Sanders in the third round and Antonio Brown in the sixth round, even though they had Mike Wallace from the previous class. They did just trade Santonio Holmes. The team took Markus Wheaton in the third round during Mann’s first season.
Mike Munchak didn’t get a whole lot exciting his first year aboard, but they did draft utility offensive lineman Wesley Johnson. He made the roster but ended up being a victim of the numbers game, waived to make room at another position due to injury and then claimed before he could make it to the practice squad.
When Joey Porter was named the outside linebackers coach in 2015, the Steelers drafted Bud Dupree in the first round and Anthony Chickillo in the sixth. Although James Saxon got Dri Archer in the third round, they had already added Le’Veon Bell in round two the year before. Jerry Olsavsky also already had Ryan Shazier to work with.
When it comes to the new coaches on the staff, all three positions they coach are very likely to be targeted. The Steelers have looked at a lot of safeties and could make one a first-round pick. Wide receiver is a prime candidate as early as the second round, in my opinion, while a defensive tackle is likely to be taken on day three.