The 2015 NFL Draft is less than a week away, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, along with every other NFL organization, are getting their draft boards together and compiling lists and lists of scenarios which fall in line with their particular draft needs. Here at BTSC we are doing the same, and have finalized the team's draft needs heading into the big weekend.
When the Steelers select with the No. 22 selection in the first round, a lot can determine who, and which position, they select. The factors which determine the list are depth at position in the draft class, team needs and the Steelers' spot in the draft order. Here is the final draft needs before the bullets start flying on April 30th.
1. Cornerback: Despite being the No. 2 need in the Draft Needs 3.0 article, it retakes the top spot on the final list. The Steelers' pass rush could be okay in 2015 without taking an edge rusher in the first round. The Steelers haven't had success with taking pass rushers as their top pick, but have had success in the mid-rounds doing just that. The Steelers could find a top tier cornerback fall in their lap, and if he is a player who can play even as a nickel back in 2015 it will be an improvement over their current crop of defensive backs.
2. Outside Linebacker / Pass Rusher: Moved from the top spot, outside linebacker can certainly be addressed in the second round, as well as the third round. The Steelers could benefit from a player who could play in obvious passing downs and help with depth, but those needs aren't such the team can't select a player in the second round who could do just that. The top tier pass rushers will most likely be off the board at the No. 22 position, in which case the team should look to target other positions with their top need.
3. Safety: Also moved from the No. 4 spot on the last list. The team has three safeties on the roster with NFL experience. Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas and Will Allen. Although this draft class isn't inundated with safeties, taking a player like Landon Collins or Shaq Thompson could significantly help the back end of the defense. Thomas is a wild card for the team's plans moving into 2015. Never able to fully back up Troy Polamalu, the team has to turn to someone, and drafting a safety would give them someone to fall back on if the plans with Thomas go South.
4. Defensive Line: The Steelers will be looking to add depth along their defensive line, but most likely targeting the defensive end position. The team has two nose tackles on their roster in Steve McLendon and Daniel McCullers, and although McCullers got playing experience in 2014, he needs to show he is the nose tackle of the future. At end, Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward will be the starters heading into training camp with Cam Thomas and Clifton Geathers as the back up players. The team needs to add depth to the position, but the need isn't as glaring as other positions on the team.
5. Wide Receiver: Another change from the previous needs list. When the roster has Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant as their top three wide receivers who do they turn to in case of an injury? Darrius Heyward Bey. Think about that and you will see why the WR position has been bumped up the list in terms of team needs heading into the NFL Draft.
6. Running Back: Le'Veon Bell's three game suspension will reveal a true lack of depth within the Steelers' backfield. DeAngelo Williams will be the main man during that stint, but after Williams you have Josh Harris and Dri Archer, two very untested and unproven backs. The team would be wise to take a look at a capable running back in the draft, but fans should remember Bell will eventually return to the lineup and will turn a negative into a positive with his experience and tremendous skill. This simple fact leaves the RB position 6th on our list and not higher.
7. Tight End: Heath Miller isn't getting younger and the team signed Matt Spaeth to a new two-year deal. Rob Blanchflower spent 2014 on the team's practice squad. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the team's tight end depth, but the team was able to be successful in 2014 without a key tight end after Miller. The 2015 draft class for tight end is extremely weak, and although the team might take a tight end in the late rounds, there shouldn't be a reason to take a tight end any earlier, if at all. Miller is capable of at least another quality season, and this could leave the team looking to target tight end in the 2016 Draft rather than the 2015 draft.
8. Offensive Guard: David DeCastro will be in Pittsburgh until at least 2016, but the starting offensive line isn't the ultimate concern with the team moving forward. The depth along the line is what could be described as a concern. The Steelers could certainly spend a late round pick (possibly their 6th round compensatory pick) on a versatile lineman who can play all 3 interior line positions. This was thought to be Wesley Johnson, drafted in 2014, but was claimed off waivers by the New York Jets last season. Look for the team to target a similar prospect in the 2015 Draft.