Ben Roethlisberger And Ryan Shazier Talk Steelers’ Draft Needs, Agree Joey Porter Jr. Is Logical Fit

Like everyone else in Steelers Nation, Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Shazier discussed their Pittsburgh Steelers draft predictions on the latest episode of Roethlisberger’s Footbahlin podcast. Shazier, Roethlisberger’s guest this week, rolled through his team needs.

“If a particular o-lineman slides to us, I think we should take him,” Shazier said. “If a top-five o-lineman slides to [17], I think that’s when you’re like best available. But me personally, I think the biggest position we need right now is cornerback or linebacker.”

Roethlisberger largely agreed, pointing out the corners who could fit in Pittsburgh.

“I think a corner is a potential [need]…[Devon Witherspoon] from Illinois,” he said. “Good talent…the [Christian] Gonzalez kid from Oregon. Really good player. Size, speed, and length. The [Deonte] Banks kid from Maryland tested through the roof.”

Cornerback is arguably the strongest and deepest position of the draft class, right up there with tight end. Day One starter options can be found well into Day Two. Pittsburgh’s done its homework on nearly all the top names and brought Gonzalez and Deonte Banks in for pre-draft visits.

But Roethlisberger focused on the most popular and well-known name that could land in Pittsburgh: Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr.

“I think that’s the one everyone anticipates coming there,” he said. “I think Joey, in my opinion, of those guys, is the most plug-and-play ready. The Steelers like to play man. Something where you gotta get hands on. I think he’s got the potential to do that. He’s long, he’s physical, he can press…I think that’s your spot to go.”

Shazier agreed, though he would take a top player like Devon Witherspoon or Gonzalez if they fall. It’s not expected that either to make it to #17. But a cornerback figures to be taken sooner rather than later and potentially with the team’s top pick.

Roethlisberger mentioned defensive line as another group to add to in order to get younger behind Cam Heyward. For Shazier, he believes inside linebacker should remain in play even after the offseason signings of Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts.

“The one thing I noticed the Steelers have done extremely well since I’ve been here, since before I was here, the inside linebacker position is a position that they normally do well at when they build somebody through the draft,” Shazier said. “They build them out.”

Pittsburgh has had a rotating door at inside linebacker since Shazier’s career-ending spinal injury. From Mark Barron to Jon Bostic to Avery Williamson to Joe Schobert to Myles Jack, no one has stuck. The Steelers are trying again after signing Holcomb to a three-year, $18 milliom deal and Roberts to a smaller two-year pact.

Shazier knows the demands placed on those players will be great.

“Sometimes the Steelers ask a lot of you at linebacker…sometimes the linebackers have to cover a little bit more than other places,” he said.

Shazier said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the team draft an inside linebacker relatively early in the draft, though not in the first round.

Overall, his and Roethlisberger’s opinions were conventional but well-placed. All those areas could be addressed this week. But you never know until the cards are turned in and, of course, there’s 31 other teams who make this an unpredictable process.

You can check out the whole conversation at the link below.

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