The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers will draft three or more defensive backs in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Explanation: The Steelers only have four safeties on their roster right now after entering last season with six. At cornerback, they only have three who are roster locks and another who is more likely than not to get there. There is plenty of room to add talent in the back end.
It’s far from unprecedented, for one thing. The Steelers drafted four defensive backs as recently as 2015, though that didn’t end well at all. Their second-round pick, Senquez Golson, spent most of his time injured. Doran Grant only had a limited time on the roster. Gerod Holliman was never even signed to the practice squad.
And the Steelers increasingly play in five- and six-defensive back personnel, so, logically, you want to have more defensive backs. Even though they drafted two safeties last year, it’s entirely possible that they draft two more, or at least one more, considering they had six last year and they’re still looking for a dimebacker.
Meanwhile, Joe Haden is 30 and Steven Nelson could play in the slot if necessary. Cameron Sutton is nothing special and at this point doesn’t project to ever materialize as a starter. Mike Hilton is sufficient but can be upgraded. And, yeah, depth would help too.
As a bonus, the Steelers like to draft players for new position coaches, and that would be Teryl Austin this year.
While they might have 10 draft picks, they also have minor holes all throughout the roster. Already I can predict at least one draft pick going to tight end, another to running back, another to defensive line, possibly even two. Drafting a kicker is a very real possibility, and it would be pretty surprising if they don’t take a wide receiver. That’s at least five right there.
Then you have the linebacker position, which could frankly be another spot where they triple dip. They need both outside linebackers and inside linebackers, with only four apiece that have NFL experience, and at least one or two in each group is potentially expendable.
Add in the legitimate momentum behind the Steelers using their draft picks to move up and they might not actually have 10 picks to use. They might wind up with only eight or nine.