The Pittsburgh Steelers have needs, just like every other team, and putting them in order of importance can be tricky. First, you have to identify the most pressing needs on the football team, and the order can certainly be debated based on what you feel is the most important to the team as a whole.
This list is certainly not set in stone, as moves made, and not made, can alter the list. After the Steelers’ free agent acquisitions of linebacker Jon Bostic and safety Morgan Burnett, the list has changed — but not as much as you may think. Now, on the eve of the 2018 NFL Draft, it is time to address the team needs again.
With that said, let’s take a look at the 2018 Steelers Team Needs 4.0:
1. Inside Linebacker
The addition of Bostic is helpful, but hardly a remedy to the team’s current situation. If need be, Bostic is capable of playing well enough to start, but he is far from the future at the position. As Bostic said in his welcoming press conference, there is no replacing Ryan Shazier. The Steelers realize this, but will have to do their best the draft a linebacker who can bring some of Shazier’s attributes to the team. Linebacker stays atop the list for me, but fans should damper their expectations — there isn’t a Ryan Shazier in this year’s NFL Draft...at least not at pick No. 28.
Talk about gutting a position. On the first day of Free Agency the Steelers released both Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden. The move essentially left the team with just Sean Davis, J. J. Wilcox, and Jordan Dangerfield as the only players with NFL experience remaining on the roster. The team went out and picked up Morgan Burnett, free agent from the Packers, which is a huge addition, but doesn’t nearly address all the team’s needs at the safety position. The early talk is Burnett will start spring workouts at Free Safety, but it doesn’t sound like this is even close to set in stone. Look for the Steelers to use one of their first two picks on a safety to help make things a bit more black-and-white in the deep defensive secondary.
3. Wide Receiver
The biggest beef readers had with my previous rankings was simply how I had wide receiver ranked so high, it was 3rd on my first set of rankings. I dropped it down one notch, and after more thought, and who the Steelers have met with prior to the draft, I have decided to elevate it back to No. 3. The news Eli Rogers plans to be ready for Training Camp this summer is nice and all, but the team needs to add a receiver, and bad. Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster are the only receivers who will be guaranteed back in the 2019 season. Martavis Bryant will likely be gone, and Rogers could be gone too. The depth at this position is certainly needed.
4. Defensive Line/EDGE
A change from my very first rankings. The more I think about the Steelers, and the rest of the NFL, moving away from standard 3-4 and 4-3 defensive concepts and more towards sub packages, I realize the team’s need for a unique pass rusher. I have this listed as an EDGE or Defensive Lineman, but someone who can be a flex player. I like the Steelers’ defensive tackles of Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu and L.T. Walton, but this need would be filled by more of a natural pass rusher. The team needs to increase their pass rushing production from the outside, but selecting a player who played 4-3 DE in college, and can even flex inside, would be a great addition to the team’s roster.
5. Offensive Line
Remember Cody Wallace? The Steelers could use another player like him. Sure, they have B.J. Finney, but another versatile offensive lineman who can play multiple positions would help add depth at the position after the departure of Chris Hubbard. Wallace was the flex interior lineman who could play both guard and center, but the Steelers are putting a lot of pressure on former LSU tackle Jerald Hawkins to step up and be the swing tackle Hubbard was last year. I’m not sure anyone would be overly excited about this proposition.