The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor is heading into free agency, as is Trai Turner.
These are the sorts of topics 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. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Which positions outside of quarterback will be first-round targets for the Steelers?
Generally speaking, the Steelers like to think of themselves as a team that puts themselves in the position every year to select the ‘best player available’, regardless of position, by the time it comes to draft. Rarely does that goal ever seamlessly line up with reality.
It goes without saying that the quarterback position will be at the top of the hierarchy until the team is convinced that they have a franchise prospect on the roster, which they currently are not. We know it’s very possible that the Steelers draft one in round one this year.
But what if they don’t? What are the positions that they are most likely to be targeting, provided that the quarterback that they sought is not available to them? Obviously we can’t fully answer this until we know what their roster is going to look like at draft time, but we can ballpark it.
They did a lot (relatively speaking) to address the interior offensive line, but what if Tyler Linderbaum were the ‘best player available’ at 20? What about tackle? Are they sold enough on Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor that they would pass on a top prospect at 20?
They just lost most of their wide receivers, and Diontae Johnson is in the final year of his contract. He has a lot of talent, but arguably hasn’t been fully convincing as a long-term legitimate number one receiver. There’s a very real possibility he doesn’t get a long-term extension. Is wide receiver on the first-round board, and how high?
Cameron Heyward isn’t getting any younger, and they drafted him and Ziggy Hood while Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel were in a similar spot to where he is now. And we don’t know for sure about Stephon Tuitt. Can a defensive end be in the mix? Inside linebacker? Even outside linebacker? Cornerback?
They can better their team at nearly any position, of course, but where do you feel the Steelers are most likely to be looking in the first round, other than quarterback, to address in the first round?