The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of ways they could go come the NFL Draft. With seven picks and three top-50 picks, the team has a chance to draft high-quality players to improve the team. But what is their biggest need? Today on Pro Football Talk on NFL via NBC’s YouTube channel, Mike Florio and Chris Simms gave their opinions on how the Steelers should use their top picks.
“I think the obvious thing is offensive line, right Mike?” Simms said. “There is some definite spots on their football team that are very damn good. I do think about them and linebackers, that’s always on their radar…But line is certainly one where I go. This is like two three years in a row where we’ve kind of gone ‘Ehh, that’s one of the weaknesses of the Steelers’ football team.’ And I think there can be one of the marquee tackles on the board there at 17.”
The Steelers offensive line has been bad the past few years as the old stalwarts either left the team or retired. The team has been investing in free agency, but a high draft pick would likely move this unit from average to good. At 17 they may have the opportunity to grab one of the better tackles, like Georgia’s Broderick Jones.
Florio, while agreeing that offensive line is an area to be upgraded, mentioned cornerback as a position of top need at 17 due to the departure of Cameron Sutton.
“Look, corner is an issue,” said Florio. “Cam Sutton left for the Lions via free agency. Patrick Peterson is not a long-term replacement. This would be a good opportunity to work someone in, get him ready to go, and then by year two maybe he can step into the starting lineup…I agree with you. I think corner and offensive line are the two that stand out to me.”
The two positions, offensive line (specifically tackle) and cornerback, have been the names most linked to the Steelers. Names such as Joey Porter Jr. and Broderick Jones have consistently been named at #17 in the many mock drafts produced in the recent weeks.
The Steelers top-30 visits lend credence to the fact that cornerback and offensive line are a target for them. Out of the 27 of the 30 visits completed, 15 have been with an offensive lineman or a cornerback. While some of the names brought in are not projected to go close to Round One, it still shows interest and indicates that at some point a cornerback and offensive lineman will get taken by Pittsburgh.
Simms and Florio also mentioned defensive line and wide receiver as positions that could be taken by Pittsburgh in the draft, and I agree with them. The Steelers’ defensive line is getting older and behind Cameron Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi there isn’t much depth. I can see them taking a defensive lineman in the third or fourth round.
Wide receiver is another position I’d love to see Pittsburgh address. Depth at the position is very weak, and we currently don’t know how good Calvin Austin III will be. Even if the pick is not going to be a starter, more depth is essential. It also doesn’t hurt that head coach Mike Tomlin has an incredible track record of drafting wide receivers.