We believe the best way to build a football team through the draft is to select players, not positions. The subgroup needs to be addressed, however, and we've tried to mix the two philosophies together to drill down the contenders for the 15th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft
We're eliminating quarterback, running back, interior offensive line, safety and anyone who's primary function is to kick the ball.
Outside of that, the remaining positions are considered, to varying degrees, open for the team to select in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Coming in at No. 5, outside linebacker.
The Steelers addressed this position in 2013, selecting Jarvis Jones with the 17th overall pick, following an equally mediocre 8-8 year. It helped very little, notching just 34 sacks (25th in the NFL) and the team's 106 sacks over the last three season ranks in the bottom third of the NFL.
Why the position needs to be addressed
While Jones's best professional days are ahead of him (rookies barely play in Dick LeBeau's defense, let alone start as Jones did last season), the problem is there is little to no depth at the position for this season as well as the future. LaMarr Woodley was released after a frustrating stint as a Steeler in which he ended up ranking in the top five of the franchise's career sack totals (the stat was only kept from 1982 on). Jason Worilds was given the team's transition tag, and it's tough to see a clear path to a long-term extension.
Anyone else beyond Jones and Worilds - i.e. Chris Carter and Jamaal Westerman - aren't exactly straight-line pro-level pass rushers. The depth at his position is so thin, in fact, it probably should be higher on this list. Selecting Jones as high as the 17th pick, though, is an aberration for this franchise. He is the only outside linebacker the team has ever drafted in the first round, and they've found loads of success in the past filling those picks with middle-round prospects.
Who are the candidates?
In a live mock draft conducted by SB Nation's Mocking the Draft, the Steelers' general manager went with UCLA OLB Anthony Barr, a raw but uber-athletic pass rushing prospect. With a solid back-up like Carter in place for at least one more season, rolling the dice on Barr would be understandable. Outside of the possibility Barr falls to 15 (he was at one time the favorite for the first overall pick), there isn't much by way of pass rushing prospects who will likely be available at 15. That drops the likelihood of the Steelers using their first round pick on an outside linebacker. Demarcus Lawrence is a candidate in the second round.