After eight straight years of getting defensive players with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ premium draft picks, defensive coordinator Keith Butler is not chafing over the front office’s decision to use its first round pick this year on a running back, or even their first four picks on Matt Canada’s side of the ball.
That’s not because he’s learning valuable lessons about sharing. He understands it’s for the good of the team — and for his unit, as well. This offseason hasn’t been overly kind to his guys, but they still have a lot of talent, including blue-chip players, and they were able to add some depth in the draft.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to coach in three Super Bowls, and I think in all three of those Super Bowls we had a good running game,” Butler said about the offense-heavy start of the draft. “So I’m not going to gripe and complain about us picking Najee in the first round and staying on offense the first day or two.”
“That doesn’t bother me because the best defense to me is always sitting on the sideline watching your offense run the football,” he added. “We’ve got to get a better rushing attack and I understand that. The head coach is doing what he thinks is best and so is Kevin. They’re doing what they think is best for this team and I agree with them, even if we might not get a pick til later on. I’m for that. I’m for us being a good football team. I’m not for us just being great at defense. I’m for winning football and trying to win the Super Bowl.”
The strength of the Steelers’ roster has clearly swung to the defensive side over the course of the past couple of years. As mentioned, they still retain a number of very talented players like T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Joe Haden, Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Devin Bush.
It wasn’t so long ago that the offense was the talk of the league, with the likes of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell making Pro Bowls year in and year out. Their offensive line was regarded as among the top of the league.
They have some recalibrating to do after losing some talent. To their credit, they’re working on that, with the additions of Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, and Harris over the course of the past two years.
They have managed to add a lot of ingredients this offseason, including Kendrick Green, Dan Moore Jr., B.J. Finney, Joe Haeg, and Rashaad Coward to the offensive line room. It will be up to the chefs to see just what they can cook up — and how it will taste. Complementary football is on the menu, or so it is intended.