The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: If the Steelers had their first-round pick this year, who would they be selecting tonight?
Just to be clear here, the only variable that we’re changing for the purposes of this exercise is that the Steelers have their first-round pick where it would be right now had they not traded it to the Miami Dolphins. We’re not playing guessing games about where they might be picking if they didn’t have Minkah Fitzpatrick. So everything is the same, except they have the 18th-overall pick. Aaaaaaaand go.
The last time the Steelers picked as high at 18, other than last year when they traded up, was in 2014 when they drafted 15 and got Ryan Shazier. The year prior to that they drafted 17 and got Jarvis Jones. In 2010, they drafted 18 and got Maurkice Pouncey. These are the only times under Mike Tomlin other than his first season that he has drafted in the teens.
This year, the only immediate need the Steelers have—nose tackle—is not one that they would fulfill with a first-round pick, so, barring perhaps a couple of positions, it would be pretty open to best player available strategizing.
And the draft does appear to be shaping up to offer a number of very enticing options at several different positions that could be of interest, such as wide receiver and tackle. I should also add that as part of the exercise, it goes without saying that you’re not trading up or down but making the selection at 18.