NFL draft day 2 winners and losers: Did Steelers do enough to address their most glaring problem?
The Pittsburgh Steelers didn't have just one need going into the draft. Nobody does. But everyone knew they needed offensive line, above and beyond anything else.
Not a running back. Not a tight end. People to block for declining Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers passed on linemen with their first two picks. They took center/guard Kendrick Green from Illinois with the 87th overall pick, and Green will help right away. He has to.
But unless the Steelers hit a few Day 3 picks, it didn't seem they did enough. Especially if Green doesn't have an impact right away, and that's never a sure thing from a third-round pick.
The Steelers line faded late last season. Pittsburgh couldn't run the ball, which put more pressure on Roethlisberger, who looked like a 38-year-old quarterback coming off major elbow surgery the last few weeks. Then in the offseason, starters Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler and Maurkice Pouncey left. The Steelers didn't have the salary cap room to fix the line in free agency.
First-round pick Najee Harris is a good player, but running backs usually don't thrive behind bad lines. Tight end Pat Freiermuth could wind up being a nice addition, but he doesn't play tackle or guard.
The Steelers have stuck their hopes on Roethlisberger, now 39, rebounding physically behind a line that could be one of the worst in the NFL. Theoretically Harris could have a big season and that eases pressure off Roethlsiberger but again, it's hard to do that behind a bad line. Up front, the Steelers will have standout guard David DeCastro, and a bunch of guys who have never regularly started in the NFL. It doesn't seem like a great formula for success.
Drafting for need often doesn't work out. Teams reach for lesser talents when that happens. But sometimes it's a necessity. It seemed like a necessity that the Steelers rebuild the line through the draft. The Steelers disagreed.
Here are winners and losers from the second day of the NFL draft:
Sam Darnold: His defenders say he just needs a chance in a better environment. He will get that.
The Carolina Panthers didn't draft a quarterback in the first round, even with Justin Fields and Mac Jones on the board. They already traded Teddy Bridgewater.
In the second round, the Panther selected LSU receiver Terrace Marshall Jr., a fantastic college player who slipped due to injury concerns. He'll be paired with D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, a pair of 1,000-yard receivers. Darnold also has superback Christian McCaffrey with him. Then in the third round, the Panthers added to the line by drafting BYU tackle Brady Christensen. It's a good situation.
The Panthers are showing a lot of faith in Darnold, and not much of it has been earned. The dysfunctional Jets situation has been blamed. Now we'll have a chance to see.
Chiefs offensive line: The last time we saw the Chiefs, their offensive line was battered by injuries and Patrick Mahomes was running for his life in a Super Bowl loss.
The Chiefs have addressed that problem.
Kansas City has attacked the line all offseason. They signed former Patriots guard Joe Thuney. They traded for Ravens tackle Orlando Brown Jr. Then on Friday they got a nice value pick with Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey late in the second round. They also added Austin Blythe, Kyle Long and should get Laurent Duvernay-Tardif back from his opt-out.
Mahomes shouldn't have to worry about protection this season.
Houston Texans and Deshaun Watson: Nobody knows what's coming next for the Texans and Watson, but the Texans aren't acting like everything will be fine.
The Texans signed Tyrod Taylor in March. They swapped late-round picks for Ryan Finley. Then on Friday, the Texans used one of their few draft selections on Stanford quarterback Davis Mills. That's not what a team with a stable situation at quarterback does.
Of course, we know the backstory. Watson wanted a trade, and then that story took a dark turn when more than 20 women accused Watson of sexual misconduct. Watson has continued to deny any wrongdoing, but it's still unclear what will happen next.
The Texans, through some bad trades, didn't have a pick until early in the third round They used their first pick on Mills, a promising quarterback but not a need if they had any faith that Watson would be around for a while.
The Watson story is far from over, but the Texans have said a lot through their quarterback moves this offseason.
The Bears' draft capital: When you have a general manager and coach who are on thin ice running a draft, you can't expect many moves with the future in mind.
The Bears made a great move to go up and get quarterback Justin Fields in the first round, but it wasn't cheap. In the second round they made another costly move up, trading second-, third- and sixth-round picks to move up 13 spots and take offensive tackle Teven Jenkins. The Bears also got a fifth-round pick back.
To move from No. 20 to 11 on Thursday night, the Bears traded first- and fifth-round picks this year and first- and fourth-round selections next year.
It's hard to argue with the Fields move. Jenkins could be a big help on the line. But with more teams understanding the best way to operate in the draft is to embrace the inexact science of picking players and trading down to accumulate more picks, the Bears gave up a lot for their first two players. They better be worth it.
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