The 2015 NFL Draft is less than a month away (April 30th) and the Pittsburgh Steelers are narrowing their search of potential prospects who might be available with their No. 22 selection. NFL teams have draft need lists in terms of importance. These lists can change with free agent signings, as well as player availability. We already completed our 1.0 list, but it is time to update the needs of the Steelers heading into the 2015 Draft.
Troy Polamalu retires, Will Allen is back in the fold, Antwon Blake signs his one-year tender and Le'Veon Bell's suspension is announced at three games. All these factors can play a role in the Pittsburgh Steelers draft needs in terms of the 2015 roster is concerned. Take a look at the Steelers Draft Needs List 2.0:
1. Outside Linebacker: The top spot was previously occupied by the cornerback position, but after looking over the BTSC Big Boards and reading Scott Pavelle's great article on the depth of this draft class at both positions, it becomes clear if the team wants a quality pass rusher, the depth in the later rounds drops off significantly compared to the cornerback position. The Steelers could snag a quality pass rusher who could play sparingly in 2015 and learn behind James Harrison and company with their first overall pick.
2. Cornerback: As previously stated, the team still looks to address their lack of depth at cornerback in this year's draft with one, maybe two, cornerbacks selected. The second and third rounds look to have plenty of quality defensive backs still on the board, and the Steelers look to have been doing their homework with several of these players if you look at who they have brought in to the South Side facility for their pre-draft visits.
3. Safety: With Troy Polamalu's retirement, the team looks to unproven Shamarko Thomas to take over and hold onto the reigns left in the wake of Polamalu's departure. Alongside Mike Mitchell, the Steelers re-signed Will Allen to be a safety net at the safety position. Other than those three players, the team only has players with little or no professional experience under their belts. If a safety is available in the early-to-mid rounds, the team should certainly look for a capable safety in the draft.
4. Defensive Line: The defensive line moves to the No. 4 spot on the team's need list. The Steelers re-signed Clifton Geathers to a new contract, but that simple fact shouldn't deter the team from looking at DT, DE or NT as positions of need in the upcoming draft. Rumors out of the South Side facility are Daniel McCullers has trimmed down and looks to be working hard to anchor his spot on the team along the defensive front. With Steve McLendon returning, the NT position seems to be okay heading into 2015, but the depth at defensive end is what makes this position the No. 4 spot on the draft needs list.
5. Wide Receiver: The fact the first offensive position on the new list is No. 5 speaks volumes about the team's defense, but also about it's offense. With Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward Bey as the team's lone experienced receivers, bringing in a rookie to compete would be a wise move for a team lacking in depth at the WR position. The Steelers have had success finding talent in the mid-to-late rounds at the WR position, and they should look to target talent in that spot once again in the upcoming draft.
6. Tight End: There is an obvious need for the Steelers to target TE in the upcoming draft. With Heath Miller not getting any younger, Matt Spaeth signed for another 2 years and the only other depth at tight end being Rob Blanchflower who spent 2014 on the team's practice squad, the team needs to try and find a young tight end to bring in and get some experience behind Miller and Spaeth. The team has some of the best offensive weapons in the NFL, but have lacked an athletic pure pass catching tight end to match the blocking skills of Miller and Spaeth. The team has been targeting tight ends with their pre-draft visits, and will look to add a player at this position in the 2015 draft.
7. Offensive Guard: David DeCastro got his 5th year option from the Steelers, but DeCastro isn't the reason the team will be looking at offensive guard in the upcoming draft. Ramon Foster, the guard opposite DeCastro, is the least athletic guard on the line, and the team would be wise to find a young rookie to help backup both positions along the line in case of injury. The Steelers have always looked for backup linemen who have the versatility to play all three interior line positions, and this year should be no different with their approach to the upcoming draft.
8. Running Back: The Steelers Le'Veon Bell will miss the first 3 games of the 2015 NFL season, and taking Bell out of the equation exposes the team's lack of depth at the RB position. DeAngelo Williams was brought in to help during Bell's expected suspension, but outside of Williams the depth is sketchy at best. Dri Archer and Josh Harris make up the other RBs on the list, and are a large reason why the team could target a RB in the draft to compete for the 3rd RB spot on the team's roster. Don't expect the team to draft a RB in the early rounds of the draft, but mid-to-late rounds is certainly a possibility if a prospect they've targeted remains on the board.