The Pittsburgh Steelers have needs, just like every other team, and putting them in order of importance can be tricky. First, you have to identify the most pressing needs on the football team, and the order can certainly be debated based on what you feel is the most important to the team as a whole.
This list is certainly not set in stone, as moves made, and not made, can alter the list. For instance, if the Steelers pick up Bud Dupree’s 5th year option, there is a good chance outside linebacker gets bumped down the list, regardless of what fans may think of the team’s decision.
With that said, let’s take a look at the 2018 Steelers Team Needs 1.0:
1. Inside Linebacker
I have always felt a defense was like a wheel, and the inside linebacker duo is the hub of the wheel. Everything else, the outside linebackers, defensive line and secondary stem from those two inside linebackers. This is why the loss of Ryan Shazier was so debilitating to the defense, from top-to-bottom. And this is why I have inside linebacker at the top of the list. Finding someone who isn’t just a run stopper, but a sideline-to-sideline player is paramount this offseason.
Technically, I could have listed inside linebacker as 1a, and Safety as 1b, but I have this gut instinct the Steelers are not going to cut ties with Mike Mitchell. Mike Tomlin likes Mitchell, and the team likely doesn’t want to have a rookie, or newly signed free agent, alongside Sean Davis. With that said, it doesn’t decrease the need for the team.
3. Wide Receiver
Many of you reading this might think having wide receiver so high on the list is nuts, but if you think about it I don’t think it is. Antonio Brown is the best in the NFL, JuJu Smith-Schuster is coming off a great season, and you are only guaranteed one more year of Martavis Bryant’s services. Other than those three, the cupboard is pretty empty, especially with Eli Rogers suffering a torn ACL in the playoff loss to the Jaguars. The team should target a young wide receiver on Day 2 or 3 of the NFL Draft to help bolster the depth at the position.
4. Outside Linebacker
It makes me sick to constantly have EDGE rusher and/or Outside Linebacker on these types of lists year after year. For as great as the Steelers have been at drafting wide receivers, they certainly struggle picking edge rushers. I think the Steelers keep Bud Dupree around, and I don’t see them looking for a pass rusher early in the draft, but if they can grab a pass rush specialist, like Carl Lawson, it would help them on obvious pass rushing downs. You would have Dupree’s athleticism in coverage and on early downs, but the young player to come in and help get after the passer. The combination could work.
5. Nose Tackle
Stopping the run should be paramount for the Steelers’ defensive plans this offseason, and finding a big plug for the middle of the 3-4 defense will certainly be a step in the right direction. Think Daniel McCullers, just with more athleticism and drive. Javon Hargrave is great, but he would be better suited for sub packages where he can use his speed and pass rushing skills to cause havoc in the opponent’s backfield. The nose tackle I am looking for resembles more Casey Hampton, who can take up blockers and help stop the run with regularity.
What positions do you put on the Steelers’ Team Needs list, and how do you rank them? Let us know in the comment section below!