The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting the best season that they have had out of the outside linebacker position that they have had in at least eight or nine years, with T.J. Watt taking his game to yet another level as one of the best young players at the position in the league, and Bud Dupree having his best season in year five.
But don’t think for a second they won’t need help in this area in 2020, and perhaps even a lot of it. That’s why Pro Football Focus named the edge position—in the Steelers’ case, outside linebacker—as their biggest draft need heading into the offseason next year.
Sure, it’s early to be talking about the draft, though for the real draftniks, it’s never too early. The Steelers are still in the thick of the playoff hunt, even if they do need help to get there, but there are still six weeks left to make something happen.
If they don’t, they should have a pretty good draft pick—to give to the Miami Dolphins, after they traded their first-round pick to them in exchange for Minkah Fitzpatrick. That will sting a bit in April, but the reality is that the trade has already paid dividends.
That doesn’t make outside linebacker any less of a need.
While Watt is looking like a franchise piece they’ll sell the farm to keep around, the reality is that they are highly unlikely to be able to afford to retain Dupree as well. Add in the fact that they may very well release Anthony Chickillo with his high 2020 cap, and the reality that Olasunkanmi Adeniyi hasn’t really accomplished anything, and you’re looking at a one-man show at the position next year.
Michael Renner also mentioned offensive line as another valid need. We are coming up on the end of Ramon Foster’s career, and B.J. Finney may be difficult to re-sign as he hits the open market. Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro are starting to get older, as is Alejandro Villanueva. He is already 31; Pouncey is 30, and DeCastro will be 30 in January.
The Steelers have some young tackles in Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner, but can either of them be a long-term starter? One of them might have to be if they end up kicking Matt Feiler inside as a way of replacing Foster down the road.
Right now, you can’t really rule out anything for Pittsburgh’s wish list, even quarterback. Mason Rudolph hasn’t necessarily taken the reins and won himself a starting job in the future. Even depth at safety is still needed, and how much longer does Joe Haden have? Can Cameron Sutton start in his place in the future? The Steelers have a solid roster right now, but it could look quite different in a short amount of time, with a lot of areas they can and will want to shore up in the draft.
And I didn’t even mention tight end…