Move over, running back and wide receiver. Make room for outside linebacker on the list of Pittsburgh Steelers’ urgent draft needs.
With the release of James Harrison, and the questionable depth behind him, the Steelers need to use a high draft pick on an outside linebacker who can get to the quarterback. If they don’t and LaMarr Woodley doesn’t shape up, opposing quarterbacks will have time to complete a sudoku puzzle before releasing the ball.
Here’s the problem. The Steelers also will have gaping holes at running back and wide receiver because they expect to lose Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace as free agents.
In recent years, the Steelers have been able to get away with not drafting for their specific needs.
They needed an offensive lineman in 2008 after not re-signing Alan Faneca. Instead, they were smitten with Mendenhall when he unexpectedly dropped to No. 23. Despite not addressing the offensive line until the fourth round, they won the Super Bowl the following year.
The Steelers drafted Ziggy Hood in the first round of the 2009 draft and Cameron Heyward in the first round in 2011 because they were starting to age on the defensive line. They didn’t need either of them to contribute right away.