As the NFL playoffs become a distant memory, each NFL team will refocus it’s sights on the upcoming NFL draft. The Pittsburgh Steelers advanced to the AFC Championship game but fell to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Who will the Steelers need to draft this year that will help them in their Super Bowl quest? Which position is the greatest need?
The Steelers will have eight selections in the upcoming draft.
1st Round – 30th Overall
2nd Round – 62nd Overall
3rd Round – 94th Overall
3rd Round – 105th Overall (Compensatory Pick)
4th Round – 137th Overall
5th Round – 174th Overall
6th Round – 216th Overall
7th Round – 250th Overall
The biggest need for the Steelers heading into the draft will be Outside Linebacker. James Harrison will be 39 years old in the upcoming season and the Steelers need to be planning for the future. Jarvis Jones is a free agent and will likely not return to the team next season. Bud Dupree has been an excellent player, when healthy, but he will need another linebacker on the opposite side of him. The Steelers could potentially target either OLB Zach Cunningham from Vanderbilt, OLB Carl Lawson from Auburn, or OLB Haason Reddick from Temple with their 1st round selection. Both of these player would fill an immediate need, and help deliver pressure to the opposing quarterbacks.
The next primary need is at the cornerback position. Artie Burns has shown great potential but they will need to find another lockdown cornerback that can play on the opposite side. Marlon Humphrey from Alabama would be a great selection in the first round, as he is a pure press corner that the Steelers desperately need. Cornerback Teez Tabor, from Florida, would also be a great selection, but he may not be available when the Steelers are on the clock.
The Pittsburgh Steelers may also need to begin looking towards the future at the quarterback position. Ben Roethlisberger has hinted at retirement and is 34 years old. Landry Jones is set to become a free agent, and the Steelers will need to re-sign him. The Steelers could potentially take a quarterback between rounds 3-5 and develop him behind Ben Roethlisberger. National Champion winner Deshaun Watson of Clemson could be a potential pick if he falls to the 3rd Round or lower. He threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns in the National Championship game against a very stout Alabama defense that is loaded with future NFL stars.
The Steelers will also need to look towards adding depth at the running back position. Le’Veon Bell is set to become a free agent but will likely be re-signed or have the franchise tag applied. Backup running back Deangelo Williams is also scheduled to be a free agent, and is unlikely to be re-signed at 34 years of age. The Steelers could benefit by selecting a running back midway through the draft to solidify the position and to ease the load off Le’Veon Bell. RB Kareem Hunt from Toledo would be a great complimentary back as he can catch out of the backfield and has excellent speed. He is currently projected to be selected between the third and fifth rounds.
As you can see, the Steelers will have plenty of options to choose from in this year’s NFL draft. They will be primarily looking for the best player available that fits their position of need. The Steelers will have a great opportunity in the upcoming draft to rebuild and contend for the 2017 NFL season.