With the 2022 new league year, the questions will be plenty for quite a while, even as the Pittsburgh Steelers spend cash and cap space and use draft picks in an effort to find answers. We don’t know who the quarterback is going to be yet—even if we have a good idea. How will the offensive line be formulated? How will the secondary develop amid changes, including to the coaching staff? What does Teryl Austin bring to the table—and Brian Flores? What will Matt Canada’s offense look like absent Ben Roethlisberger?
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: An offensive lineman would be the Steelers’ best possible first-round pick by position.
Explanation: The offensive line remains perhaps the weakest overall position group, and is one of the most important position groups overall. While the quarterback position is of significant concern, opinions about the potential for this draft class are mixed.
This was one of the first offensive lines in football last season. They have only made it marginally better from last season, replacing one of their best starters (Trai Turner) with a player who should be a clear upgrade (James Daniels) and giving them more security with Mason Cole, but this remains a weak group screaming for an upgrade.
None of the quarterbacks in this draft class will ever lead a team to a Super Bowl, period. So there’s no sense in drafting any of them in the first round. If they can land a Carson Strong in the second or third round, then great, but they would only be fooling themselves thinking Malik Willis will be hoisting a Lombardi trophy over his head for them one day.
While the offensive line remains of concern, it doesn’t have to be addressed in round one. It would be better tackled on day two, leaving open the first round for either a quarterback or a premium defensive talent the likes of which they would not have available to them beyond pick 20.
They haven’t addressed any position this offseason more than they have the offensive line, retaining one free-agent starter and adding two more. They already have several young mid-round draft picks who are still developing.
In combination with a clearer picture for the offense that they can better execute this year, a more assured running game, and a new offensive line coach, the group up front should be better in 2022 by a fair margin as it is. Add in another starter between Rounds 2-4 and you’ve got something.