When you look at the Pittsburgh Steelers you can see that their biggest needs right now are to upgrade the pass rush, find a receiver to replace Mike Wallace, finding a starting inside linebacker, and finding out who their starting running back is. Most mock drafts have the Steelers taking an outside linebacker or a nose tackle because of how deep the position is in the first round.
I have been trying to push the idea that the Steelers should go offensive line in the first round for the third time in four years especially if Alabama’s Chance Warmack is still available at 17. I have been getting the feeling though that if Warmack is gone, the team may decide to take North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper. Cooper would slide right in as the starter at the guard position and is exactly the type of mobile lineman that new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. loves. The Steelers also love when a guy has some versatility and Cooper has some experience playing center.
A lot of fans have not been too receptive to the team going offensive line again just due to the fact that the Steelers seem to have so many needs. Personally I would rather just solidify the offensive line for years to come and actually keep Ben Roethlisberger on the field while actually opening up holes for running backs.
If the Steelers do indeed go offensive line in the first round I bet most people would think they would have to go with one of the needs I stated earlier as well as maybe a safety in the second. At this point however, I think the team would go with a guy in NT Brandon Williams out of Missouri Southern State. The Steelers have Steve McLendon, Alameda Ta’amu and Hebron Fangupo on the roster although, there is no telling if the team feels any of them are the future at the position.
When you get to the third round is where I feel the team could go in one of many directions including running back, safety, inside linebacker, or outside linebacker. If they go running back I could see a guy like Johnathan Franklin from UCLA or Kenjon Barner from Oregon. Safety could be D.J. Swearinger South Carolina, Tony Jefferson from Oklahoma or Barcarri Rambo from Georgia. At linebacker I believe a John Simon from Ohio State would be the option outside and personally I’d take Vince Williams from Florida State on the inside if he is still there.
Once you get passed the third round it really starts to get harder to predict which way a team will go because you have no idea what players will fall and which ones will be taken earlier.
Either way if the first three rounds play out like this there will be a lot of Steelers fans surprised on draft weekend. I wouldn’t be one of those surprised and in fact I’d be thrilled with the start to this draft.
I believe the Steelers are going to tie up a lot of the perceived needs by signing a cheap veteran receiver and by making some kind of deal to keep James Harrison for one more season. As far as inside linebacker the team has already talked with Larry Foote to bring him back for one more year and they could decide on a veteran, free agent running back to bring into the mix with Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman. None of these options solve anything for the future however, that is just how I feel the team will go right now. Once any deals or moves are completed they will be up for debate on whether or not they are the right thing to do.