Entering the draft evaluation period, the Pittsburgh Steelers certainly have needs, but do not necessarily have an glaring holes on a roster that is loaded with young talent.
For this reason, the Steelers can afford to get creative with some of their mid-round draft selections. Two of Pittsburgh’s day two draft picks from 2017 - safety Sean Davis and defensive linemen Javon Hargrave - played well over 1,100 combined snaps last season, solidifying a defense that finished 21st in the league in yards allowed in 2015.
Finding viable day-one starters in the middle rounds of the draft is far from a sure thing, so replicating their wildly successful 2016 draft will be a tall order for the Steelers. With that said, here are three players who I think would help right away:
Penn State WR Chris Godwin
Before Godwin introduced himself to America with a 187-yard, two-touchdown game against Southern California in the 2016 Rose Bowl, he had quietly distinguished himself as one of the most physically gifted receivers in the Big 10. Despite gaining over 2,000 yards and catching 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons, Godwin is a projected mid-round pick in a relatively weak receiving class.
Along with his good size (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) and decent speed (will probably run in the 4.4-4.5 range at the Combine), Godwin possess two distinguishable traits that should translate extremely well at the next level: he makes contested catches, and he is a great blocker.
USC CB Adoree Jackson
Jackson’s ability to play multiple positions makes him one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft. The junior cornerback is among the most decorated players available, having been named to the All-Pac 12 team and earning the 2016 Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the country’s best defensive back.
Jackson has the speed, agility and explosiveness to become Pittsburgh’s primary punt returner, which would fill an immediate need and allow Antonio Brown to focus on playing receiver. Jackson might be a little undersized to play outside cornerback (listed at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds), but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker, as both Artie Burns and Ross Cockrell played very well on the outside last season. Jackson has the tools to become a good slot cornerback, but will need some coaching in this area.
Clemson RB Wayne Gallman
Le’Veon Bell could probably handle a full workload every single game, but it would probably be prudent to find another running back to give him a breather every so often.
The Steelers don’t necessarily need to find a “change of pace” back or a bruiser or anything like that. Why fix something that isn’t broken? The best option to spell Bell is by simply finding another one.
Like Bell, Gallman is a big, elusive back with exceptional patience behind the line and is an adequate receiver who will improve with time and coaching. His production over the past two seasons speaks for itself (2,600 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns to go with his shiny National Championship trophy), and he uses vision rather than bulk to gain extra yards.