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Diagnosing the biggest hole still to be filled on the Steelers’ 2018 roster

The Steelers’ roster may technically be complete, but it isn’t free of holes. Which hole looms the largest heading into the 2018 regular season?

NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Jacksonville at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There are teams who filled their major needs in the 2018 NFL Draft, and then there are others who have holes remaining on their roster.

Most who follow the NFL would agree the Pittsburgh Steelers would fall into the latter of those two categories.

With massive needs at inside linebacker and safety heading into the draft, the team addressed safety in a big way, but neglected inside linebacker. Yes, they did sign Jon Bostic in free agency, but, barring a huge shift in defensive philosophy where safeties play a linebacker role in sub packages, the whole left by injured Ryan Shazier remains a crater on the team’s roster.

Is that the only need? ESPN certainly doesn’t think so. In fact, they believe pass rusher is the biggest need, not inside linebacker.

Take a look at what the ESPN Insiders said:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Biggest hole: Pass-rushing depth

The Steelers don’t have many holes on their squad, but they could stand to upgrade their pass-rushing depth on the edge. T.J. Watt had a strong rookie season, but Bud Dupree has been up and down since arriving as Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in 2015. Behind those two, the Steelers have Anthony Chickillo, a decent tertiary rushing option, and Keion Adams, a 2017 seventh-round pick.

The Steelers led the league in sacks and sack rate last season, but they were a bit too dependent on blitzes to amass that total -- Pittsburgh got 15 sacks from inside linebackers or defensive backs -- and Jacksonville was able to exploit their aggressive defense in the playoffs. If the Steelers want a more sustainable way of generating pressure, they should find a way to make their edge rush a bit more competitive.

There can certainly be a case made for pass rusher being the team’s biggest need, but it also comes down to whether the scheme Keith Butler deployed last year was due to not having good pass rushers, or just a general shift in scheme which allowed Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt to attack the passer while the outside linebackers dropped into coverage.

It is safe to say if inside linebacker is Need No. 1, pass rusher is Need No. 2, or even 1B.

While natural to have the mind wander directly to the defensive side of the football when talking about holes which still need filled, let’s not forget about wide receiver. When the Steelers decided to ship Martavis Bryant to the Raiders on Day 1 of the draft, it left a pretty sizable hole on the roster. Yes, they added James Washington in the second round, but can this deep threat completely fill the hole left by Bryant?

As a rookie, it won’t be easy.

So, which hole remains the largest for the Steelers heading into the 2018 regular season? Let us know by voting in the poll below, and be sure to explain yourself in the comment section below:


Which hole is the biggest for the Steelers?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    (1934 votes)
  • 21%
    (581 votes)
  • 1%
    (29 votes)
  • 4%
    (109 votes)
2653 votes total Vote Now