ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay released what he deems to be the five biggest needs, in order, for all 32 NFL teams on Friday and that certainly is a daunting task. As for the five he listed in order for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he appears to be a bit misguided.
In order for the Steelers as far as their five biggest needs go ahead of this year’s draft, McShay has inside linebacker, cornerback, safety, quarterback and a defensive lineman and he writes:
Pittsburgh’s defense fell apart down the stretch after Ryan Shazier’s injury, and he won’t play in 2018. With his career in doubt, the Steelers must look to replace him in the middle. Pittsburgh allowed seven TD passes of 40-plus yards (tied for most in NFL), and the secondary needs depth at both cornerback and safety. Defensive line is also an area that needs more behind Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward. Will Pittsburgh also look for Ben Roethlisberger’s eventual replacement, with Landry Jones a free agent after the season and Joshua Dobbs inactive for 15 of 16 games?
McShay listing inside linebacker first isn’t likely to get an argument from any of you reading this post. After all, since the career of Ryan Shazier is currently on an indefinite hold right now and combined with the fact that Vince Williams is now in the final year of his contract, the Steelers certainly need another quality inside linebacker early in this year’s draft even though they signed veteran Jon Bostic to a two-year free agent contract back in March.
As for McShay listing cornerback ahead of safety, that seems like a stretch. The Steelers recently invested draft picks in Artie Burns, Cameron Sutton and Brian Allen in addition to signing veteran cornerback Joe Haden last year. Additionally, Mike Hilton proved to be a more than adequate nickel cornerback last season. While the Steelers might ultimately draft another cornerback this year, it’s hard to argue the position being that big of a need in 2018 and it definitely shouldn’t be ranked ahead of safety.
Most of you could probably live with McShay listing safety third on his list had he listed outside linebacker second instead of cornerback. The Steelers depth chart at the outside linebacker spot ahead of this year’s draft needs yet another young player on it even though the organization drafted two a year ago. McShay chose not to list the outside linebacker position at all and that’s a bit confusing.
Is the quarterback position really a top-five need this year for the Steelers? It’s hard to argue that it is even though backup Landry Jones is now in the final year of his current contract. Sure, the Steelers have scouted two top-rated quarterbacks this offseason and should they ultimately draft one of them, it will be because they truly feel that player can be the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger two to three years from now. The Steelers don’t actually need a quarterback this year, it’s more of a possible want.
I suppose I’m fine with McShay listing defensive lineman fifth but with that said, the Steelers starting three up front is already set for the next few years and they do still have Tyson Alualu under contract through the 2018 season. The Steelers could use some depth at the position this year and thus will likely draft a defensive lineman at some point.
The most glaring omission on McShay’s list is perhaps the wide receiver position. Sure, the Steelers are set with Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant for 2018, but the latter will be gone this same time next year. The rest of the Steelers wide receiver depth chart doesn’t look great at all and currently includes Justin Hunter and Darrius Heyward-Bey. One slip up again from Bryant in 2018 and the Steelers will be hurting at the wide receiver position. In short, that position should definitely be listed in McShay’s list of five biggest needs.