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.
At No. 3, wide receiver
The Steelers have the benefit of holding under contract the services of one of the best receivers in the game, Antonio Brown, for the foreseeable future. He broke the team's receiving yards record (1,499) last year and very well could challenge it again in 2014. But after him are six career catches from Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
There are young receivers on this team who aren't proven, and in today's pass-happy NFL, having more receivers gives a team more versatility in the passing game. Roethlisberger is an excellent quarterback, but bringing in another player who can create offense will be needed now and in the next few seasons.
Why the position needs to be addressed
The six catch thing is bolstered somewhat by the fact the team brought in veteran slot receiver Lance Moore to fill the vacancy of Jerricho Cotchery - who left via free agency to Carolina. The team also signed veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey. While no one is printing out headlines of "Swann and Stallworth Reborn," their experience will help the likes of Markus Wheaton, the owner of those six catches from Roethlisberger, and even Roethlisberger himself.
Adding a more versatile receiver could give the Steelers options in terms of certain personnel packages. Moore is a skilled route runner but is limited to the slot. Other options need to be found where three receivers who can run a variety of route combinations can get on the field, giving Roethlisberger the ability to exploit mismatches in no-huddle situations.
What they have now is fairly shallow, and competition would help boost what was a decent offense last season over the second half of the year. Making moves now to help strengthen the growing bond at the position will help the team in the long run.
Who are the candidates?
Odds are essentially nil that either Clemson's Sammy Watkins or Texas A&M's Mike Evans will be available with the 15th pick. LSU's Odell Beckham appears to be the best option for the team where they currently are. However, there are several players who don't stack up far behind Beckham for one reason or another. Indiana's Cody Latimer, Florida State Kelvin Benjamin and Penn State's Allen Robinson are all players likely to be available at 15, and some of them could fall into the second round as well.
The position is as deep as it's ever been, partially due to the proliferation of the passing game at the collegiate level. Slot receivers in particular, like Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, showed they can be highly productive even if they aren't the biggest players on the field.
It's likely Beckham, Cooks, Latimer and Benjamin will be first round picks, and Robinson, Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews and Mississippi's Donte Moncrief all could find themselves as attractive trade-down options should the Steelers explore that route.