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Draft Decisions

NFL Draft Needs: AFC North

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: April 18, 2020, 1:29 pm ET

The Rotoworld Football crew’s Ian Hartitz, Nick Mensio, John Daigle and Hayden Winks are breaking down every team's biggest needs, division by division, and Josh Norris offers potential solutions in this month's NFL Draft.

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

Pittsburgh Steelers

Notable Offseason Additions: FB Derek Watt, TE Eric Ebron, LG Stefen Wisniewski, DT Chris Wormley

Starting Offense

QB: Ben Roethlisberger
RB: James Conner
WR1: JuJu Smith-Schuster
WR2: James Washington
WR3: Diontae Johnson
TE: Eric Ebron
LT: Alejandro Villanueva
LG: Stefen Wisniewski
C: Maurkice Pouncey
RG: David DeCastro
RT: Matt Feiler

Starting Defense

DT: Cameron Heyward
NT: Chris Wormley
DE: Stephon Tuitt
LOLB: T.J. Watt
ROLB: Bud Dupree
ILB: Devin Bush
ILB: Vince Williams
CB: Joe Haden
CB: Steven Nelson
SCB: Mike Hilton
S: Minkah Fitzpatrick
S: Terrell Edmunds

 

Team Needs

Offensive Line: Longtime LG Ramon Foster retired, and the Steelers replaced him with 31-year-old Stefen Wisniewski. C Maurkice Pouncey turns 31 over the summer, and RG David DeCastro is 30. Starters LT Alejandro Villanueva and RT Matt Feiler are a year away from free agency. Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner are options at tackle, but the Steelers have literally no depth along the interior. This line needs an injection of youth.

Running Back: The Steelers have seemed to sour on James Conner a bit after he just couldn’t stay healthy last season. There were even internet rumors of the team looking back into a Le’Veon Bell reunion. That’s not happening, but the Steelers could use a backfield mate for Conner as he heads into his contract year. Jaylen Samuels disappointed in his action as the No. 1 back last year, and 2019 draft pick Benny Snell is not a long-term starter.

Wide Receiver: In the first year sans Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster couldn’t stay healthy and didn’t make an impact when on the field. We’re chalking most of that up to Ben Roethlisberger being out, leaving JuJu to catch wildly inaccurate passes from Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. Expect a bounce-back year from Smith-Schuster. Diontae Johnson and James Washington have talent, but the Steelers could take advantage of a strong wideout class.

 

Steelers’ Draft Picks

Norris’ Options

2 (49). RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin - This might seem early for a back, but all indications are the team is ready to move on from James Conner. A.J. Dillon is a great fit a round or two later, but Taylor is a plug and play difference-maker. He has plenty of experience running from traditional single or dual back sets, but also presents big-play upside and a slalom skiers’ mentality when working through the second level.

3 (102). OL Robert Hunt, Louisiana-Lafayette - Hunt lined up at right tackle in college. I expect him to shift inside to guard. The fun part of this exercise is identifying new favorite prospects while watching tape for these write-ups. Hunt now qualifies. He’s always working to move his opponent off the spot, forcing them into positions against their will. However, that does lead to overextension. Reel him in a bit and you could have something special.

4 (124). WR Tyler Johnson, Minnesota - With reports that JuJu could be approaching his final season in black and yellow, the Steelers could continue to prioritize the position. Johnson did not attend the Senior Bowl or Shine Game, then did not participate at the Combine … but his highlights are awesome. Acrobatic catches and taking slants for six.

4 (135). iDL Rashard Lawrence, LSU - Javon Hargrave’s presence might be felt more now that he’s no longer on the roster. Obviously with Tuitt and Heyward locked in, it was impossible to pay another. Lawrence might not be as explosive as Hargrave, but he can fill the same inside alignment.

6 (198). LB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami - The Steelers traded up for Devin Bush last season, but at the very least they can use depth at the position.

7 (232). C Jake Hanson, Oregon - As Nick pointed out, the depth along the Steelers’ offensive line is severely lacking. Hanson was a Ducks’ starter for three years.

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Ravens | Steelers | Browns | Bengals