The Pittsburgh Steelers finished the season with an uninspiring 8-8 record. Despite the 3rd place finish in the AFC North, things aren't all bad. Even though the defense had to deal with some injuries they still finished with the number 1 ranked total defense. The Steelers have always hung their hat on their defense and they produce year in and year out. The Steelers had a rough draft last year, not because the talent level isn't there, but because of injuries. David DeCastro and Mike Adams both missed games due to injuries. Seeing what they can do in their second year will go a long way towards evaluating last years draft class. Kevin Colbert is entering his 14th season as the teams general manager, helping build the rosters of two Super Bowl winners along the way. Mike Tomlin begins his 7th season as the teams head coach. They need to have a strong draft if they intend on reclaiming the top spot in the AFC North.
David DeCastro was a top prospect in last years draft and with him coming back the line expects to be better. Mike Adams is also returning from injuries and will likely occupy the right tackle position. His lack of agility would probably be exposed on the left side. Drafting a left tackle would go a long way towards shoring up the offensive line.
One of the hallmarks of Steelers teams has been a strong running game. The team currently has Isaac Redman and Johnathan Dwyer, but neither one of them are what the team wants as their starting option. To have a running game that threatens defenses they need a more explosive player. The team hosted a visit from Ahmad Bradshaw and will likely continue to show interest in him as the offseason continues. As the offensive line continues to grow and improve the backs need to be able to break off big runs occasionally that will keep defenses honest against the run.
Defensive Front Seven
This is the corp of the Steelers attack. Everyone knew that eventually the team was going to have to part ways with some big name players because of age and salary cap considerations and it happened to two recently; Casey Hampton and James Harrison. With Hamptons departure the team desperately needs to fill the nose tackle position. Larry Foote remains a solid linebacker, but he is also beginning to show his age at 33.
With Mike Wallace leaving Emmanuel Sanders is now going to be the teams number 1 receiving option. The only problem is they are going to have trouble stretching the field because Sanders and Antonio Brown are both better suited for the short and intermediate game.
Even though it may not seem like an urgent need right now, it will be soon. Ryan Clark is 34 and Troy Polamalu is 31. They still both play the game at a high level, but they are physical and as they age injuries are likely to occur along with the inevitable decline in skills. Bring in a young guy to learn from these two would make the eventual transition much easier.
Even though the Steelers didn't end their season where they want, they have a lot to look forward to. Injuries played a big part in their performance and the offense had to deal with a new coordinator. During the second half of the season Todd Haley began to look like him and Ben Roethlisberger were on the same page. That is only going to continue to improve with time and the growth of the offensive line. The team also brought Matt Spaeth back after he spent the past two seasons with the Bears. He will be a dependable option until Heath Miller is fully recovered from his knee surgery.
The Steelers have the 17th overall selection in the draft and good through a little curveball by going with a guy like Tyler Eifert. At 6-6, 255 pounds he is a big strong tight end that led Norte Dame is receptions last season. He isn't a direct replacement for Mike Wallace, but he adds a receiving threat. He can't stretch the field on the outside, but he can work the seam very well and get to the outside. His combination of speed and size make him a match up nightmare for defenses. As he grows into his body and spends some time in NFL weight rooms his blocking will also improve. The diversity he brings would test defenses in ways that a traditional deep threat doesn't.