The Pittsburgh Steelers' 23-16 loss to the Denver Broncos in the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs means more than the end of the season. It also means the team's 2016 NFL Draft position has been solidified. It might be difficult to think about, but the NFL Draft is around the corner and the Steelers possess the 25th pick in this year's annual selection of college football talent.
The Steelers have leaned on defensive draft picks with their first round pick the past 3 seasons, taking linebackers in each of their last three drafts, and that trend could certainly continue this year as it has become clear the team's biggest needs fall on the defensive side of the football.
It isn't as if the offense doesn't have potential weaknesses, because it does. The team's offensive line will need addressed, and a first round guard could be the direction the team goes in Round 1, but in comparison to the defensive side of the football, the needs there are clearly more severe.
The team could potentially lose their top three cornerbacks in free agency with William Gay, Antwon Blake and Brandon Boykin all set to hit the free agent market this offseason, but anyone who follows the Steelers knows the team never drafts a cornerback in the first round. The defensive line could use another play maker to give Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward someone to draw attention away from them, and to give them a reprieve from time to time.
As sad as it is to type this, pass rusher should still be high on the Steelers' list of needs. James Harrison isn't getting any younger, nor is he a guaranteed option to return next season, and Jarvis Jones has yet to prove he is an every down player at the right outside linebacker position. Bud Dupree seems to be growing into his role in the NFL, but still is extremely raw. Arthur Moats provides experience and versatility at the position, but ultimately is not of the caliber to be a starter at the left, or right, outside linebacker position.
Safety is another position of need for Pittsburgh. Mike Mitchell cemented himself as the rock in the deep secondary, but opposite him is up for grabs. Will Allen is in the same position as James Harrison, an aging veteran which no one knows how much he has left in the proverbial tank. Shamarko Thomas has been the epitome of disappointing at the safety position, and other than those two the team is looking at Robert Golden becoming a free agent at the end of the season.
The evaluation begins now, but there are plenty of positions which will be targeted in the upcoming draft. Everyone should know the Steelers will take the Best Player Available (BPA) when it is time to draft, but if you had your pick, which position would you highlight in the first round? Vote in the poll below and let us know whey in the comment section.