Draft needs: Pittsburgh Steelers


The Steelers have at least one pick in all seven rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft, which offers Pittsburgh a chance to stock up on some needed young talent. Three of their selections are compensatory picks, including a third-rounder (No. 97 overall), which effectively replaces the selection dealt to Cleveland in the 2013 trade for safety Shamarko Thomas.

With star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in place for more than a decade, Pittsburgh has had the luxury of addressing other positions in the draft with high picks. And with Roethlisberger still playing well, the Steelers can continue to focus elsewhere on Draft Day. Nevertheless, the clock is ticking on Pittsburgh, which is a team somewhat in transition, with aging stalwarts at some spots and younger players trying to prove themselves at others.

Here are the Steelers’ top needs entering the 2014 NFL Draft:

Cornerback: It would not be a surprise if the Steelers added a cornerback, and perhaps even with one of their first two picks (Nos. 15 or 46). Ike Taylor was a key cog for the Steelers’ last three Super Bowl entrants, but he is in the last year of his contract, and he turns 34 next week. Another key cornerback, William Gay, will be 30 in January. Also, Cortez Allen will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Finally, the depth beyond Taylor, Gay and Allen could stand to be improved, too.

Defensive end / defensive tackle: The Steelers lost defensive tackle Ziggy Hood and defensive end Al Woods in free agency. Also, defensive end Brett Keisel remains unsigned. Steve McLendon can play defensive end, defensive tackle and nose tackle, giving the Steelers a little flexibility. The Steelers also brought in young nose tackle Cam Thomas in free agency. Still, the Steelers seem likely to come away with at least one defensive lineman in the draft, with the defensive end / defensive tackle depth chart spots in most need of help.

Wide receiver: After the departure of Emmanuel Sanders, the Steelers seem likely to give 2013 third-round pick Markus Wheaton a shot at a bigger role in the passing game. However, even if the Steelers are confident in Wheaton’s readiness, the receiving corps could still use a little more playmaking punch. The Steelers signed Lance Moore (ex-Saints) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (ex-Colts) in free agency, bolstering their depth in the near-term. But Pittsburgh still could be a pass catcher short.

Linebacker: Inside and outside linebacker are each positions Pittsburgh could address. Outside linebacker looks to be the bigger need. Jason Worilds is currently signed to a one-year deal, and the depth at the position took a hit with the release of LaMarr Woodley. The Steelers could also seek to bolster their options at inside linebacker, where Lawrence Timmons remains a constant.

Offensive tackle: The Steelers could have reason to add a tackle. After all, right tackle Marcus Gilbert can test unrestricted free agency at season’s end. Also, the Steelers had to change course at left tackle a season ago, with Kelvin Beachum stepping in for the ineffective Mike Adams. However, the Steelers’ tackles could all have upside to improve. Gilbert, Beachum and Adams are all young, and the Steelers have added former Titans head coach and Hall of Fame offensive lineman Mike Munchak as offensive line coach.

25 responses to “Draft needs: Pittsburgh Steelers

  1. I’m interested to see if Munch can fix that OL. It’s just weird to see the Steelers struggle like they have with that unit of late. They have big, talented young guys but between injuries and underperformance just have not been able to pull it together. I think it may be more a matter of getting performance out of the players they’ve got vs upgrading the talent per se.

  2. As the Titans head coach, Munchak’s O-lines in Tennessee was dreadful. Probably doesn’t mean anything. Never mind. Forget it.

  3. The pick is CB or WR in the first; the other will be the 2nd round pick. With a LB and safety already picked up in FA this is what makes sense.

  4. The need at DE will largely be driven by how well Cam Thomas can man the NT position and how well McLendon makes the transition to DE. Personally, I feel like DE is McLendon’s natural position and I’m optimistic that he and Heyward can give the Steelers a killer pair of DE’s for years to come.

  5. Let the haters hate, they haven’t won 7 championships by mistake. They will retool and move forward unlike most teams who basically fall apart and disappear for yrs before becoming relevant again.

  6. The Steelers have been very unlucky with injuries. Last September they were playing without their…

    * starting center
    * starting tight end
    * starting running back
    * both starting inside linebackers (Larry Foote & Sean Spence)

    I think this is the big reason why they went 0-4.

    If they can rebuild the secondary and avoid more freaky injuries, they’ll be in the playoffs again.

  7. Until the Steeler defense can start handing Roethlisberger seven or eight 13-9 wins each season again they will not make the playoffs. That’s just how good Roethlisberger is.

  8. noe of their needs is much more glaring than the other,,,theyll take the safest player on he board because they absolutely cannot afford a bust in the first 2 rounds

  9. Couple of cornerbacks, WR, fast LB and sign Brett K & we’ll be good. Munchak will have that OL playing tough.

  10. What’s the holdup with re-signing Keisel? I don’t follow the Steelers that closely but from what I can tell he’s a pretty important piece of their D.

  11. DL isn’t as glaring of a need as CB/WR. The big bodies they need for 3-4 will be there rounds 5-7. Pittsburgh is in their base 3-4 only 30% of the time do to the fact that its a passing league. DT and DE will get depth with the draft but they need to get 2 CB/ WR Bryant from Clemson Rd 2/ RD 3 the new hybrid LB that Pittsburgh will make a staple of the NFL like they did the Cover 2. Looking at the schedule Im looking at 11-5/10-6 and the winner of the NORTH. Ravens are done with all their criminals and we know what Cincinati does before Cincy knows. and well the Browns will find a way to blow all that talent. It is a huge draft though. Everyone is right on the coin with that.

  12. Pleaseeee a good imediate starter at CB in the first round…wait till the 2nd for a WR or ILB or DE.. I am tired of our corners getting beat and waiting to develope. We have a good secondary at FS and SS, next two years I would like 2 good CB’s in first round !

  13. Luckily the Steelers have had the luxury of having Roethlisberger to bail out the defense when they inevitably fade late in games. If they can find some defensive players who don’t blow leads late, the sky’s the limit for this squad.

  14. They should resign Brett Keisel, have him slim down to 270lbs and use his strength, long arms, long legs, big hands to play OLB in the nickel and dime pakages and as a rotational player at ILB & OLB.

    Keisel is 6’5″ tall w/limbs like a 7’er. He’d be devastating ruining bubble screens, passes to the flats, rushing the passer on Cam Heyward’s side and confusing offenses playing ILB on short-yardage passing downs.

    Most forget Keisel ran a 4.49 in his rookie year.

    Keeping him on the roster would be a huge positive.

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