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Draft Analysis

NFL Draft Needs: Steelers

by Evan Silva
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential solutions in May's draft.

For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.


No. 1 Team Need: Defensive Line

Silva's Analysis

The Steelers have moved on from Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood, leaving RE Cameron Heyward, NT Steve McLendon, and $4 million pickup Cam Thomas as projected starters on the line. Pittsburgh's front was pushed around in 2013 run defense, and the organization lacked financial means to attack it aggressively in free agency. Pittsburgh needs both a front-end lineman and depth. They might use their first-round pick here. DC Dick LeBeau fancies his defensive linemen as nimble and versatile, with an ability to two gap, rush the passer, and drop into zone coverage.

Norris' Options

First day option: Louis Nix, Notre Dame - Remember the days of Casey Hampton anchoring the Steelers front seven? The team struggled to prevent 3rd and short situations, putting entirely too much pressure on the defense. Nix had a down 2013, but there were shades of Vince Wilfork to his game in 2012. He is different than other large nose tackles thanks to his ability to shed blocks, not just hold up to them, and play one or two yards in the backfield. He resets the line of scrimmage.


Second day possibility: Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame - I struggled to find prospects to fit the “second day” label for the Steelers, who also fit their draft history/style. Meaning, prospects who don’t have to gain weight, have length along the defensive line and positional flexibility at the same time. I don’t love, or really even like, Tuitt’s game, as he is a slow mover with a lack of explosive elements, but he fits the frame and has experience in odd man fronts.

Third day flier: Brent Urban, Virginia - Urban received a lot of buzz just prior to the Senior Bowl, even earning some poor man’s J.J. Watt comparisons. I don’t think those apply, but he has a tremendous frame and the positional experience at both defensive end and tackle. He tended to work around blockers rather than through them at Virginia.


No. 2 Team Need: Cornerback



Silva's Analysis


Washed up going on age 34, RCB Ike Taylor had to accept a $4.25 million pay cut to stay in Pittsburgh, and shouldn't be guaranteed a starting job. LCB Cortez Allen is a quality No. 2 corner, but is entering a contract year. Nickel back William Gay is coming off a solid season, which historically means he's due for a dreadful one. There is no depth behind those three players. The Steelers need to get younger at cornerback. They need a No. 1 corner replacement for Taylor.

Norris' Options

First day option: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State - Gilbert is long and athletic, and Oklahoma State’s more aggressive defense played into his strengths in 2013 compared to 2012. He struggles to consistently use proper footwork, especially to mirror receivers out of their breaks, but his athleticism allowed him to catch up and trail. The question is if that will work in the NFL. The Steelers have had success with a ridiculous athlete in Ike Taylor.

Second day possibility: Bashaud Breeland, Clemson - I keep mentioning Breeland’s name on the second day, but I prefer him over any corners projected outside of the first-round. His ability to play the catch point is very good thanks to his vision and timing.


Third day flier: Marcus Roberson, Florida - Roberson missed a good amount of games this season due to injury and suspension. He entered the year with plenty of buzz but did not live up to it. The talent did not disappear, however, and he could be a nice prospect after the fourth-round.

No. 3 Team Need: Tight End

Silva's Analysis

An imposing red-zone wideout would also fit, as Pittsburgh's current top three receivers stand 5-foot-10 (Antonio Brown), 5-foot-11 (Markus Wheaton), and 5-foot-9 (Lance Moore). Put simply, the Steelers need more size in the pass-catching corps. Heath Miller is entering his age-32 season, and his top backup is 30-year-old blocker Matt Spaeth. I listed tight end over receiver as a need in this instance because adding the former would give playcaller Todd Haley's offense multiplicity. It would allow Pittsburgh to field more dynamic "12 personnel" looks, with Le'Veon Bell at tailback, Miller and an early-round rookie at tight end, and Brown paired with Wheaton outside.

Norris' Options

First day option: Eric Ebron, UNC - Ebron spent the majority of his time in the slot, and that is likely where he would project early on during the final stages of Heath Miller’s career, but he has a chance to move inline and be a complete tight end. Ebron has tremendous yards after catch ability and improved at the catch point, but he still needs to improve his concentration on easy grabs. It is troubling, honestly.

Second day possibility: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington - No tight end displayed more versatility in terms of alignments than ASJ. Inline, in the slot, out wide and in the backfield. He did it all. ASJ is very limited after the catch but still has downfield ability thanks to his ball skills and anticipation at the catch point.

Third day flier: Richard Rodgers, Cal - Rodgers is another receiving tight end who played predominantly from the slot. I know he did not test well at the Combine, but Rodgers’ YAC was just behind Ebron. That is outstanding. He did not catch a single pass beyond 20 yards and 50 percent of his grabs were between 1-5 yards.

Video: Norris on Pittsburgh's top need

Steelers 2014 Draft Picks (9)

First Round (No. 15)

Second Round (No. 46)

Third Round (No. 97)

Fourth Round (No. 118)

Fifth Round (No. 157)

Fifth Round (No. 173)

Sixth Round (No. 192)

Sixth Round (No. 215)

Seventh Round (No. 230)

Steelers Current First-Team Offense

QB: Ben Roethlisberger

RB: Le'Veon Bell

WR: Antonio Brown

WR: Markus Wheaton

WR: Lance Moore

TE: Heath Miller

LT: Kelvin Beachum

LG: Ramon Foster

C: Maurkice Pouncey

RG: David DeCastro

RT: Marcus Gilbert

Steelers Current First-Team Defense

LE: Cam Thomas

RE: Cameron Heyward

NT: Steve McLendon

ILB: Lawrence Timmons

ILB: Arthur Moats

OLB: Jason Worilds

OLB: Jarvis Jones

LCB: Cortez Allen

RCB: Ike Taylor

FS: Mike Mitchell

SS: Troy Polamalu

Evan Silva
Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .