When you look at the AFC North there are plenty of people who believe the Steelers’ reign near the top of the division is coming to a close. With the Ravens and Lamar Jackson looking to reload, and everyone and their brother jumping on the Browns’ bandwagon, it is easy to think the Steelers would be taking a backseat.
After all, they lost Le’Veon Bell to free agency, traded Antonio Brown to the Raiders, and have a defense which wasn’t exactly dominant last season. But don’t look at this and think the Steelers are done. Far from it, actually.
The team extended Ben Roethlisberger for two more season and traded up in the draft to take Devin Bush with their first overall pick in the process. On top of that they added an Antonio Brown-like receiver in Diontae Johnson, a power running back in Benny Snell Jr. and a long and athletic cornerback in Layne Johnson. Throw in their offseason acquisitions if Mark Barron, Steven Nelson and Donte Moncrief and this team look as if they are poised to strike in 2019.
The fine folks at ESPN spoke to several NFL executives about the 2019 NFL Draft, and they chimed in regarding the Steelers’ draft, and what they thought of the team heading into next season.
See what was said:
“They got a really good player and from a culture standpoint, that was a really good move for them,” a former GM said. “I really like [third-round receiver] Diontae Johnson as well. He can return, he can play inside, he can play outside. For what they lost [Antonio Brown], that was a really good pick. In some ways, they lost some talent but probably steadied their locker room ship.”
An exec thought Johnson closely resembled Brown in terms of testing numbers and overall look. Those are all great, but the team will still have to replace those 15 offensive touchdowns Brown accrued last season.
But what about the team as a whole? Will changes be made? Are the Steelers a team on the decline?
”I would think that if Pittsburgh gets third in their division or misses the playoffs, there could be a change there,” an evaluator said. “They just paid Ben Roethlisberger on an extension and this nucleus is about to be broken up with some of the guys they need to pay in the not-too-distant future. For them to cut Jon Bostic and get this guy [Bush], they are saying, ‘Let’s make this defense better and see if we can compete.’”
See if we can compete? I would argue the Steelers will compete in 2019, but what do you think? Will the rookie class perform well? And will the Steelers be a team to compete with next season? Let us know in the comment section below!