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Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 team needs 1.0

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With the 2016 Pittsburgh Steelers season over, it is time to assess what the black and gold need to do this offseason, and we start by looking at the team needs heading into the dog days of no football.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team that was one game away from the Super Bowl in 2016, yet there are a lot of people who think the team needs to make drastic changes and moves to get over the hump.

Some changes may need to be made, but there are broader needs which need to be addressed in one of two ways. You can attack these needs through the NFL Draft, or free agency. There can be a case made for both, but they typically are solidified through just one of those two avenues.

Below is my first list of team needs as the Steelers look ahead to 2017, and the reason for numbering these is simple. A lot can change these rankings. If the Steelers sign Le’Veon Bell to a big long-term contract, running back would fall on the team’s list. The same could be said if the team were to sign a veteran cornerback to help solidify their secondary.

Here is the list, in order of importance:

1. Outside Linebacker / EDGE Rusher

Addressed through: NFL Draft and/or Free Agency

Jarvis Jones is likely gone next season. James Harrison is still fighting back father time. Bud Dupree really turned heads when he returned from Injured Reserve, but Arthur Moats and Anthony Chickillo don’t provide much other than a few backup reps. The team needs to find someone who can be opposite Dupree for the future.

2. Inside Linebacker

Addressed through: NFL Draft

Ryan Shazier is the rock of this group, and although Lawrence Timmons is aging, he had a tremendous season in 2016. The Steelers might re-sign Timmons, but it can’t be a long-term fix. The team should look to get the next inside linebacker through the NFL Draft. A player who can learn for a year or two, and then take over next to Shazier.

3. Cornerback

Addressed through: NFL Draft and/or Free Agency

Artie Burns was a pleasant surprise. Ross Cockrell is a good player, but the team can’t rely on aging William Gay and oft-injured Senquez Golson in the future. Yeah, Justin Gilbert is there, but bringing in more talent at the cornerback position, especially a player who can run press-man coverage should be on the team’s priority list.

4. Wide Receiver

Addressed through: NFL Draft

Antonio Brown is...well...Antonio Brown, but after him the Steelers don’t have much. No one knows if Martavis Bryant will be reinstated, Markus Wheaton is a free agent, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Sammie Coates are inconsistent and that leaves Eli Rogers and Cobi Hamilton. Yeah, they might want to think about adding some insurance at the pass catching position.

5. Running Back

Address through: NFL Draft and/or Free Agency

Le’Veon Bell will be back in 2017, whether that is with a new long-term deal or a franchise tag, but behind him is hardly certain. Fitzgerald Toussaint is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent, DeAngelo Williams’ contract expired and the next notable running back on the roster might be Karlos Williams who is coming off suspension and was signed to a futures contract. Now is the time for the team to add to their running back stable.

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You can hear more about each of these positions, why they are on the team’s priority list and which area they might address these needs in the latest episode of the “Steelers Connection” in the player above. Give it a listen!

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