NFL Draft Needs: Steelers

Josh Norris
Rotoworld
Josh Norris and Evan Silva walk through the Steelers’ top three needs and offer options for each of their draft picks.
Josh Norris and Evan Silva walk through the Steelers’ top three needs and offer options for each of their draft picks.

Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is Rotoworld's Senior NFL Editor, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) is Rotoworld's lead Draft Analyst. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in April’s draft.

For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.

Notable Pre-Draft Additions: CB Steven Nelson, WR Donte Moncrief, ILB Mark Barron.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

Starting Offense

QB: Ben Roethlisberger
RB: James Conner
WR: JuJu Smith-Schuster
WR: James Washington
WR: Donte Moncrief
TE: Vance McDonald
LT: Ali Villanueva
LG: Ramon Foster
C: Maurkice Pouncey
RG: David DeCastro
RT: Matt Feiler

Starting Defense

RE: Cameron Heyward
LE: Stephon Tuitt
NT: Javon Hargrave
ROLB: Bud Dupree
LOLB: T.J. Watt
ILB: Mark Barron
ILB: Vince Williams
LCB: Joe Haden
RCB: Steven Nelson
SCB: Mike Hilton
FS: Sean Davis
SS: Terrell Edmunds

Team Needs

Silva's Analysis

Defensive Front Seven: This is a nebulous need position, but the Steelers could afford youth infusions and competition at most spots up front. Their inside linebacker play has fallen off a cliff since losing Ryan Shazier, and overpaid Dupree is shaping up as a first-round draft flop. Even as Tuitt, Hargrave and Heyward form an outstanding trio, Pittsburgh’s defensive-line depth is limited. Most specifically, the Steelers need an outside-edge rusher to push Dupree for 2019 playing time and replace him by 2020.

Pass Catcher: The Steelers have the NFL’s fifth-most unaccounted-for targets (226) after they parted with Antonio Brown and Jesse James. Moncrief has a chance to ease the burden, and Washington, McDonald and Jaylen Samuels can pick up some slack, but Pittsburgh remains likely to draft pass-catching help in the form of a vertical receiver and/or tight end.

Offensive Line: Secondary is also worth mentioning with Haden in a contract year on the wrong side of 30, Davis also in his walk season and Hilton angling for a new deal. Signing Nelson did fill a big hole opposite Haden. Offensive line remains a more obvious need; Foster is 33 years old, and right tackle is up for grabs after GM Kevin Colbert dealt longtime RT Marcus Gilbert to Arizona for a sixth-round pick. Pittsburgh’s top in-house option is Matt Feiler, a sixth-year undrafted free agent with 11 career starts.

 

Steelers 2019 Draft Picks

Norris' Options

1 (20). EDGE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson - Much has been made about the depth of this edge rushing group. I’m not so sure, and Ferrell might be the last outside rusher available with a top-32 grade. Lately the Steelers have targeted athletic edge guys in Dupree and T.J. Watt. Ferrell is not on that level, as he tends to use his length and hands to create space.

2 (52). CB Justin Layne, Michigan State - A super long and athletic corner who tends to rely on that length and athleticism in order to recover, close and compete at the catch point.

3 (66). Acquired from Raiders in Antonio Brown trade - WR Miles Boykin, Notre Dame - I can’t help it. Boykin’s game reminds me so much of Martavis Bryant. 6-foot-4 and a 99th percentile athlete with long strides to release and eat up ground while also exhibiting smoothness. Go watch him if you haven’t.

3 (83). LB Germaine Pratt, NC State - The Steelers have really lacked athleticism at linebacker. Slow linebackers equal a slow defense. Barron might help with that, but Pratt is another former safety to linebacker convert.

4 (122). TE Drew Sample, Washington - I was super impressed with Sample’s blocking ability at the Senior Bowl. He offers enough of a threat to afford attention as a receiver.

5 (141). Acquired from Raiders in Antonio Brown trade - WR Gary Jennings, West Virginia - This is a great project for the Steelers' coaching staff to work with. A downfield, vertical athlete who also shined on broken plays.

6 (175). Acquired from Raiders in Ryan Switzer trade - OL Tyler Jones, NC State - Late round lineman with starting experience at both guard and tackle.

6 (192). RB Alex Barnes, Kansas State - Outstanding athlete at the running back position who is the hammer and not the nail as a runner.

6 (207). Acquired from Cardinals for Marcus Gilbert - DL DeMarcus Christmas, FSU - Run defending late round depth.

7 (219). Acquired from Buccaneers in J.J. Wilcox trade - S Khari Willis, Michigan State - Flies in from outside the television frame to make tackles at full speed.

What to Read Next