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: Cornerback
LCB Cortez Allen was one of the league's worst cornerbacks before a thumb injury sent him to I.R. last season. RCB William Gay is best suited for a slot/nickel back role. Current No. 3 corner Antwon Blake was a liability in 2014 and got arrested in March. The Steelers don't have a No. 1 cornerback, and arguably don't have a quality No. 2, either. Although the Steelers are commonly perceived as a zone team in the secondary, new DC Keith Butler figures to mix man- and zone-coverage principles, just as mentor Dick LeBeau has done in recent years.
No. 2 Team Need: Outside linebacker
37-year-old James Harrison and edge-setter Arthur Moats are penciled in as the Steelers' starting outside linebackers. Going on age 26 and simply not an NFL-caliber athlete, Jarvis Jones has three career sacks through 21 games and shows all the symptoms of a bust. Although their approach may shift under Butler, the Steelers have historically targeted stockier, more powerful outside rushers as opposed to speed demons. They need an every-down rush 'backer to push Moats into a two-down role, and ensure that Harrison isn't counted on for heavy snaps.
No. 3 Team Need: Tight end
Safety, left guard, and defensive line depth could also be addressed by Pittsburgh. Tight end is arguably most pressing with Heath Miller going on age 33. The Steelers have no promising young talent at tight end and would be in serious trouble at the position if something happened to Miller.
Norris’ Mock Draft:
Round 1 (22): CB Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest - I can absolutely see Johnson ranked as the top corner for a number of teams. Not only if he athletic, Johnson is aware. He has experience in both man and zone schemes, something Evan alluded to as a wishlist item. I am not comfortable evaluating defensive backs, but Johnson is listed by many trusted evaluator as a top two corner.
Round 2 (56): EDGE Nate Orchard, Utah - After sticking with productive and unathletic prospects (Jarvis Jones, I’m looking at you), it could be argued the Steelers overcorrected last year. Orchard reminds me so much of Jarvis Jones on the field, but slightly more athletic. Teams have types. Rarely do decision makers change their process or ways. I think Orchard fits Pittsburgh’s.
Round 3 (84): G Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah - Is interior offensive line a major need? It might be after this season depending on Ramon Foster’s future with the team after 2015. Poutasi will be viewed as a right tackle and guard. Early on he can fill the utility OL role on Sundays and work his way into the starting lineup. Or emerge as a starter early due to injury, which is something the Steelers have dealt with up front.
Round 4 (121): TE Jesse James, Penn State - I would be shocked if the Steelers don’t go defense with the first two selections and then select a tight end shortly after. James has a superman frame but is still growing into his game. He can improve his receiving consistency and improve his blocking. With how the roster is set, he would have the time to do that while making flash plays as a role player.
Round 5 (160): RB Matt Jones, Florida - I know I have mocked Jones to a lot of teams… but he really fits the Steelers. He can fill parts of the game DeAngelo Williams cannot: a larger framed runner who is a good receiving back. The team has reportedly shown interest, too.
Round 6 (199): DL Angelo Blackson, Auburn - A name that is not receiving a lot of attention who could surprise with a fifth or sixth round selection. All you can possibly ask of these late round selections is filling a role. Blackson can do that in sub-package situations and as a base backup across an odd man front.
Round 6 (212): WR DeAndre Carter, Sacramento State - A diminutive 5’9/185 lbs receiver who has ridiculous speed and change of direction. He uses it to create separation on the ground and sustain it. He is ahead of many in terms of route running.
Round 7 (242): CB Troy Hill, Oregon - Some might view Hill as Oregon’s best defensive back.
Steelers Current Offensive Depth Chart
RB: Le'Veon Bell
WR: Antonio Brown
WR: Martavis Bryant
WR: Markus Wheaton
TE: Heath Miller
LT: Kelvin Beachum
LG: Ramon Foster
RG: David DeCastro
RT: Marcus Gilbert
Steelers Current Defensive Depth Chart
LE: Stephon Tuitt
RE: Cameron Heyward
NT: Steve McLendon
OLB: James Harrison
OLB: Arthur Moats
ILB: Lawrence Timmons
ILB: Ryan Shazier
CB: William Gay
CB: Cortez Allen
FS: Mike Mitchell
SS: Shamarko Thomas