We are just a handful of days away from the 2021 NFL Draft. With every passing week the Pittsburgh Steelers have made moves which will help dictate the direction of their upcoming class, but unless they acquire more picks it looks like the team won't be able to fill every position of need.
Today we are going to look at the positions the Steelers still need to add talent, and whether they can get away with snubbing those positions. Let’s begin...
Positions that need starters:
The free agent market is virtually dried up, and with B.J. Finney saying the Steelers coaching staff telling him it’s his job to lose I wouldn't be expecting any veteran additions. Finney struggled mightily in 2020, so the Steelers would be making a massive mistake not adding someone else to the fold. This is a must-draft position.
The Steelers currently have probably the worst running back depth chart in the NFL. Unless Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland can figure out their vision issues, or Jaylen Samuels and Kalen Ballage get it together, I don’t expect any of these players to carry the load for the Steelers. This is another position that must be addressed in the draft.
Both James Pierre and Cameron Sutton are better suited to play the outside corner spots. I don’t think the future nickel of this team is on the roster. Thankfully, this is a position where they don’t have to panic in adding someone. But I wouldn't be surprised if they do so earlier, rather than later.
This is an interesting spot, on one hand the free agent market is still littered with a number of second tight end options. On the other hand, the 2021 tight end class is one of the worst tight end classes in quite some time. I would imagine they sign someone unless they find incredible value in one of the few decent tight ends dropping.
Let’s begin by saying Chuks Okorafor and Zach Banner are a fine staring duo in this league, even Joe Haeg is a decent swing tackle with some potential. But it would be nice if the Steelers could land an upgrade in a rather strong tackle class. After all, the Steelers aren't just drafting to protect Ben Roethlisberger, but also to protect the next starting quarterback of this franchise. Don’t follow the Bengals’ plan, lock down the line, then get the quarterback.
Positions that Need Primary Backups:
T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith need a back up, period. There really isn't anyone available on the open market, so I would imagine they draft one. It would just be plain stupidity if they go into the season with just Cassius Marsh backing those guys up. Teams would just wait until he’s on the field and attack him, much like the Browns did in the Wild Card round. Regardless of when, this is a must draft position.
The Steelers are obviously looking for more depth, they reportedly brought in Karl Joseph for a free agent visit before he signed with the Las Vegas Raiders. Right now the Steelers are relying on Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds to remain healthy enough to play every snap of a 17 game season. Which is a recipe for disaster. The Steelers need to add someone.
Positions of Future Need
Obviously, the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for life after Ben Roethlisberger. They know it’s coming, we know it’s coming, heck Ben might even know his career is nearing the end. While they do have a couple of guys on roster that have potential to be starting quarterbacks in this league, I still wonder if the organization wants Ben to mentor someone who projects more as a Top 10 QB rather than a middle of the pack guy. With the team in win-now mode, I would say they definitely avoid drafting a quarterback, unless they manage to add more picks.
Joe Haden is also nearing the end of his NFL journey, and the Steelers may want to add another body to the mix to learn from one of the highest ‘Football IQ’ corners in the game. Again this might be addressed if they have more draft capital.
To me the Steelers need to add at least a center, running back, outside linebacker, and safety in the draft. Some of those players will be called upon right away while others will be waiting in the wings. But this draft won't be a failure if they neglect some other positions. The Steelers can still sign some quality tight ends, and corners and while it would be nice to lock down a tackle the Steeler don’t have too.
But what do you think? Which positions do the Steelers have to take in the 2021 NFL Draft? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.