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How free agency has changed the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive draft needs

Free agency can majorly affect how a team approaches the draft. By acquiring new players, and losing old ones, the draft needs of a team can change overnight. How has free agency affected Pittsburgh's draft needs on the offensive side of the ball?

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have re-signed Ramon Foster (guard), Darrius Heyward-Bey (wide receiver) and Greg Warren (long snapper). They have also lost Kelvin Beachum (offensive tackle) and Jordan Todman (running back), as well as Martavis Bryant (wide receiver) to his suspension and Heath Miller (tight end) to retirement. Coming are Ladarius Green (tight end) from San Diego and Ryan Harris (offensive tackle) from Denver. From this, it is clear what direction Pittsburgh is taking with tight end and offensive tackle - Green and Harris, but what about other positions of need and overall losses to the roster?

The loss of Martavis Bryant is sad one. The catch he made against the Bengals in the playoffs is enough to show that, but is this enough to warrant a draft pick? I'm not so sure - it has a lot to do with Pittsburgh's approach to the situation. If they have faith in Bryant, then there is enough depth on the roster to cope - Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, Le'Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, as well as the acquisition of Green and the re-signing of Darrius Heyward-Bey. If that is not the case then Pittsburgh may be looking for a mid-round or later pick on WR.

Kolby Listenbee (TCU), Charone Peake (Clemson) and Jay Lee (Baylor) may therefore be who the Steelers look towards. Listenbee is projected to go in the 3-5 round, and is incredibly quick. Despite this, he is small in stature and hand size. A little time in the weight room will fix that. Peake would go in the 4-6, and is a tall (6"2') and physical and fast receiver. He could be a hidden gem due to his prior knee injuries preventing him from going higher, even though he has the ability. Finally, Lee who could go as late as the 7th round or even undrafted because of living of the shadow of team mate Corey Coleman. Despite that, he may find a place in Pittsburgh due to his sure hands and good reach. Any of these players would be a good fit for the Steelers, but that is assuming the franchise does not see Bryant in its future.

Jordan Todman was not the starter at Heinz field. His loss may still affect the future however, on the condition that both Bell and Williams could get injured again. Even then, with Fitzgerald Toussaint, running back is not an emergency either. Pittsburgh still may find it useful to draft a running back though, to fill the niche that Todman left.

Daniel Lasco (California), Kelvin Taylor (Florida) and  DeAndre Washington (Texas Tech) would be prospect to do this. With Lasco likely to go in the 4th, Taylor in 4th or fifth and Washington in the 5th, a pick here would not be badly spent. Lasco is fast, and did well in the jump at the combine, and should really be projected earlier, but due to a hip injury could be a bargain.  Taylor is a good route runner, but a riskier choice. His father Fred Taylor left his legacy as "Fragile Freddie" to his son, as he missed the shrine game due to shoulder injury. Washington could be another risk, due to his smaller size, but can make up for it as a receiver in the backfield as well as his experience as a return man (something the Steelers would find useful). A pick on one of these players may well be a choice made by Pittsburgh.

Quarterbacks are also an interesting prospect with Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger has a few great years left in him, but his backups are a little less solid. Bruce Gradkowski and Michael Vick have both hit free agency, and without an offer from the Steelers may well not return. The other two QBs on the roster are Landry Jones and Dustin Vaughan, both are very unproven. It could be a smart choice to add another quarterback to the roster.

Pittsburgh has met a number of quarterbacks already. Three are Dak Prescott (Mississippi state), Brandon Allen (Arkansas) and Vernon Adams (Oregon). Their draft projections are as follows: Prescott in the 3-4th, Allen in the 6-7th and Adams in the 7th or undrafted. Prescott was met by the Steelers at the combine. He can run from the pocket, has a good arm and has good size - a little reminiscent of Big Ben himself. Allen was met at the pro day, and is a little smaller than most teams would want. Despite his size, his upsides are great - he has a quick release, a good arm and good accuracy. Lastly Adams, who was met at the combine, and is a short and has small hands. However, he is mobile, smart and can throw well, with comparisons to Russell Wilson being made. These players may be the smart choice for Pittsburgh's draft.

Altogether, it is obvious that Pittsburgh's needs sit mostly on the opposite side of the ball -- the defense. However, lets not ignore the needs of the offense, which although not common place, have changed with free agency. For this reason, the players listed above are among some of the players and positions on the offensive side of the ball that the Steelers could target in the draft.