With the NFL Draft just a few weeks away, all 32 teams are in a mad scramble to be ready and prepared to make decisions on players they hope will have a positive impact on their club. In reality, most of these picks won’t do that. Some will become stars in the league, but even if you go in the 1st round, or even in the top five selected, there is no guarantee for success.
For Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin and the entire Steelers’ staff, making seven solid picks will be hard. Given their needs, it will be harder. Mix their position in the draft order and you have a Molotov cocktail in hand, poised to be thrown.
I’ve stopped looking at the roughly 1 billion mock drafts put out. They don’t mean squat until the actual draft begins. You can project all you want. You can guess who’s going to make a draft day trade to move up or gain more picks. In the end, all you can really do is interview as many kids you think could be available and hope for the best.
With such a low spot in the drafting order, and only seven picks, the Steelers find themselves handcuffed. They can’t really package up picks to try and move up. And for what? I think many would agree that ILB and safety are the key areas that need addressed the most. Unless you can move into one of the top 12 spots, guys like Tremaine Edmunds (the stud LB from VA Tech) or Derwin James (Florida State safety) will be long gone. Even good middle 1st round prospects like Rashaan Evans (Alabama LB) and Leighton Vander Esch (Boise St LB) most likely won’t be around when the time comes for the Steelers to pick.
The catch is if the Steelers don’t trade up, you go with the ‘best available’ athlete on the board. There has been some speculation that if he was there at 28, Lamar Jackson could be wearing black-and- gold to start his NFL career.
I think we can all agree that Landry Jones probably isn’t the future long-term starter for this team. Would taking Jackson, who I think has upside at that spot in the draft, be such a bad pick? He would have time to develop under the future hall of famer in Ben Roethlisberger, and given Ben’s durability, he could provide 2-3 years of mentorship before he hangs it up.
To be honest, if that scenario played out I could live with it. Despite the real needs of an inside linebacker and secondary help, if a ‘can’t miss’ guy isn’t available, taking a player like Jackson could benefit you down the road. The Steelers still have plenty of time to work the free agent market for help and the draft, once complete, will help clear the path to do just that.
This is a 13-3 team with much of it’s key talent coming back. Whatever the Steelers do in terms of player selection, lets hope it’s with the idea that whoever they bring in will have some sort of impact that gets this team where it needs to be.
John Phillips is the author of this article and a secret member of the galactic empire. When he’s not chasing down Jedi scum along East Carson Street, he can be found writing articles for BTSC.