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Steelers Plug Major Holes In Free Agency To Open Up Draft Board

The Pittsburgh Steelers got busy over a span of about 18 hours between two nights ago and yesterday afternoon, during which time they added a potential starting guard in Stefen Wisniewski, significantly bolstered the tight end position with Eric Ebron, and made a trade with the Baltimore Ravens, of all teams, to acquire Chris Wormley to add to the defensive line.

These were the three positions on the roster hardest hit this offseason, with the loss of guards Ramon Foster and B.J. Finney, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, and tight end Nick Vannett (who remains an unrestricted free agent). In doing so, they have already patched up a number of their most significant holes heading into the 2020 NFL Draft.

While there remains—and always will be—room for improvement, arguably the most significant position still desirous of further additions is the safety position, though they also re-signed Jordan Dangerfield yesterday to a one-year contract as he heads into his fourth season.

As has been the case almost every offseason for decades, the Steelers are making use of free agency to ensure that they head into the draft without holes so egregious that they feel pressured into making poor decisions based on need. The quintessential example of this is when they talked themselves into using a first-round pick on Artie Burns in 2016, after missing out on William Jackson III by one spot, so desperate were they for help at cornerback.

Now, does that mean that the Steelers are going to ignore these positions come draft time? Of course not. It is still all but assured that they will be drafting another offensive lineman to add to the mix. Tight end and defensive line will still be on the table provided that it corresponds sufficiently with their draft board.

But what it does is precisely that—it opens up their draft board and keeps their options as open as reasonably possible. There are few things they won’t do, and hopefully none that they will be forced to do. And that is when teams are able to operate best, as it allows them to most closely approximate the philosophy of drafting the ‘best player available’.

With the addition of Ebron in particular, to pair with Vance McDonald, the Steelers have arguably the most accomplished pair of receiving threats at the tight end position that they have ever had throughout their history, which could add an interesting dynamic to their offense for the 2020 season (and potentially beyond).

Wisniewski is obviously not going to be a long-term answer, but he provides, at worst, quality immediate depth along the offensive interior that gives them options. Wormley, meanwhile, is a young player who still has a lot of upside, but who fell behind in the Ravens’ rotation. The Steelers obviously believe they can do something with him, giving up a fifth-round pick for him (and getting a seventh back). It should be noted, however, that he is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

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