Pittsburgh Steelers Team Needs: Pre-Draft
Shortly after the 2015-16 season ended with the Denver Broncos winning the Super Bowl, we took a look at the offseason needs for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Back then, there were four key positions that needed the most attention—cornerback, safety, tight end and offensive tackle. Since then, a safety (Robert Golden) has resigned, a tight end (Ladarius Green) was signed to a four-year deal and an offensive tackle (Ryan Harris) was signed to a two-year deal. All three signings were in an effort to fill voids left by departures via free agency or retirement.
Although the Steelers resigned Golden, a need at safety is still imminent. The 25-year-old Golden looks to take the place of the departed Will Allen, however, hasn’t seemed to fit the mold in recent years.
Green was brought in via free agency in the wake of longtime Steeler Heath Miller retiring, and on the surface seems to have the tools to serve as an ample replacement. Second-year man Jesse James and veteran Matt Spaeth are also available, making it appear as if a tight end would be off Pittsburgh’s radar screen.
With a few free agency moves the Steelers are headed in the right direction, but with the draft nearing there are still some focal points. Let’s take a look at the top draft needs for the Steelers.
The Steelers need a cornerback more than any other position. The Steelers ranked 30th in the NFL in passing defense in 2015 after ranking 6th in 2014. Despite making the postseason in 2015, Pittsburgh’s secondary was effective enough on a consistent basis to solidify its spot in the playoffs. The Steelers did manage 17 interceptions, but also surrendered 29 touchdowns—including a long of 80 yards. While it wasn’t all at the fault of the secondary, it played a big part.
Currently there are only three cornerbacks on the roster that have in-game experience, whether preseason or otherwise. Senquez Golson, Pittsburgh’s draft pick out of Ole Miss in 2015, missed the entire season due to injury. Corner is a position that needs addressed, and the Steelers are drafting in a position where they can land a top choice.
The Steelers have lost two starting safeties each of the last two years. As Mike Mitchell has solidified himself as a mainstay on the roster, he hasn’t had a consistent counterpart in the backfield. Of the many prospects that the Steelers have brought in for visits, the majority have been safeties—a sign that they are putting a lot of stock in the position. If you’re adding depth at the corner positions, you might as well bolster up the entire unit.
The loss of Steve McClendon to free agency brought about the addition of Ricardo Mathews, however, adding depth will be crucial in the continued success of Pittsburgh’s defensive line. Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt solidified themselves as forces in the NFL last season, and will likely continue to do so in 2016. However, Mike Tomlin and company have preached the idea of implementing a rotation on a week-by-week basis as needed. The 2016 draft class is deep enough that a defensive lineman can be chosen with confidence, even in the later rounds.
Rounding out the top draft needs is the lone offensive position, but let’s face it, it’s probably the only pressing offensive need. Ramon Foster and David DeCastro are the current starters for the Steelers. That’s all well and good, but looking beyond that, Chris Hubbard and Cody Wallace are the backups. Wallace played center last season in the absence of Maurkice Pouncey as well—essentially making for one backup at the guard position.
Chris Galiszewski covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for PFS. Follow him on twitter @cgaliszewski