With the rush of free agency in the rear view mirror it is time to focus in on the NFL draft, specifically on team draft needs. In this article we look at the Pittsburgh Steelers draft needs for 2016 as we approach the April 28th first round from Chicago. The Pittsburgh Steelers may have finished 2nd in the AFC North last year but showed that they can’t be overlooked by knocking the Bengals out of the playoffs. While they defeated their division rivals in the playoffs, they still have holes in their roster. These need to be addressed immediately, if they want to compete for that division crown next year.
Biggest Need: Cornerback
The Steelers will outscore any opponent if you give them the opportunity, but the one thing they don’t seem to be able to do is stop the pass. The secondary seems to give away touchdowns as often as the offense scores them. The issue that the Steelers face though, is that, independently, the players in their secondary are strong, but together they seem to just not fit. The current starters are Cortez Allen and William Gay, both of whom are above average starters, however neither are number 1 cornerbacks. This is why it was such a problem for the Steelers last year. Good cornerbacks don’t come around all the time, so when you have two, you hold on to them. When both players would be better in a complimentary role though, then you face a problem. The Steelers biggest need therefore is corner, and drafting a viable number 1 player in the first round is something they must do. With decent depth in most positions, adding new blood to this group will bring in another strong player while simultaneously building for the future, and with any luck, the Steelers could draft their new lockdown corner.
Other Needs: Safety, Outside Linebacker, Quarterback
The secondary being the Steelers main area of concern entering this season, naturally they will be looking at both corner and safety. The Steelers will look to upgrade Safety but only for the right player, and for now, corner beats safety. Some players enter the draft as a Defensive back with no true position. While on the surface this sounds like the perfect pick for the Steelers, they would get a player capable of filling multiple spots. This, however, can be a trick in the sense that the reason the player comes in as a defensive back, is because in the short term, they can’t hold either position in the NFL. The later rounds would be a perfect place to pick up a safety as they could be brought in as a project player with the future in mind. Pittsburgh are relatively young at Outside Linebacker, however in bringing through that youth, they are starting to look thin their too. In this league it seems you can never have enough pass rushers, so the Steelers can use late round picks on players who can come in play special teams and as specialists in passing downs in the short term. They don’t need starters so depth picks can be used here. The final need, doesn’t seem like a need at all, but it is becoming one. Big Ben is entering his 13th season, and although he isn’t slowing down, injury is starting to creep up. They need to find his eventual successor and in spot work Landry Jones isn’t very convincing. The Steelers ball club is already competitive so they have luxury picks this year, why not use one on a project Quarterback, who can at least push Jones to be better.