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2021 Offseason Questions: How Have Draft Priorities Shifted Since Start Of Offseason?

NFL Draft pick Devin Bush

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row. Pittsburgh went 1-4 in the final five, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason, resulting in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. And right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

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 is a year-round pastime and there always questions to ask. Though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: How have the Steelers’ draft needs shifted since the start of the offseason and free agency?

With the new league year now over a month old, plenty of movement has taken place during that time. Movement that has reshaped every team’s roster, and thus their priorities as we head into the home stretch before the 2021 NFL Draft.

Since the start of the offseason, the Steelers have lost Maurkice Pouncey, Vance McDonald, Matt Feiler, James Conner, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Bud Dupree, and Ola Adeniyi. And for the time being, Alejandro Villanueva.

They really haven’t made any significant outside additions that would do much to change their draft needs. Pittsburgh’s made a few signings along the offensive line and elsewhere, here and there. Most adds are fringe players who may or may not even make the team.

They haven’t signed any starters this year as they have in years past, like Joe Haden, Eric Ebron, Mark Barron, and Nelson, so nothing has been taken off the board that would otherwise be there. But for example, the signing of B.J. Finney does lessen the urgency to draft a center.

That more than anything has been the effect of this offseason process, which is generally in line with a typical Steelers’ offseason, lessening urgencies. They have contingencies for most any position, though in many cases, it is not the ideal. Any number of a half-dozen positions should be on the table for the first round, for example, if not more.

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