2013 NFL Draft Team Needs: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers missed the 2012 NFL Playoffs, giving their loyal fans two disappointing endings for two years in a row. It had a lot to do with an aging roster and it’s high time the Steelers injected some serious youth and got deeper at some key positions.
The good news is they still have Ben Roethlisberger to lean on, but with Mike Wallace having one foot out the door, they may have to answer some questions at wide receiver, while answering some questions regarding age with the likes of 35-year old pass-rusher James Harrison.
If the Steelers want to get back to being a Super Bowl contender, they’ll need to get younger and faster across the board. The draft is the fastest route to do just that, so let’s dive into Pittsburgh’s biggest needs and see what they might be thinking in free agency and the draft this off-season:
Offensive Needs: RB, WR, TE
Rashard Mendenhall is hitting free agency and due to a recent rash of injuries, the Steelers should let him walk. They can’t stand pat at running back, though, as Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer are mediocre options. I doubt they knee-jerk in the first round with a running back, but grabbing a quality back in round two or three makes a lot of sense. They’d have to consider Giovani Bernard or Eddie Lacy if they drop to them in round two, but I actually think Wisconsin’s Montee Ball fits them quite well. He’s a power rusher with underrated speed and could step in and be their bell cow from day one. Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead could be an interesting option in round three, as he’s insanely versatile and could probably lead a committee attack.
If Mike Wallace leaves, Pittsburgh needs to get someone to fill his shoes. Antonio Brown can’t do it all on his own, so they’ll have to bring a veteran in or draft some help. I suggest they do both. They could bring in Dwayne Bowe to be more of a possession guy and let Brown work through the big plays, or possibly have Greg Jennings come in and take over Wallace’s old role. When it comes to the draft, Cobi Hamilton, Stedman Bailey and Aaron Dobson could all be options to consider in round three, should they be available.
No one is knocking Heath Miller, but he absolutely shredded his knee last year (and was having a great year). At the least, the Steelers need to bring in some insurance in case he doesn’t make it back for the start of the year, or if he’s not the same. Beyond that, a new talent could give them different looks, as well.
Defensive Needs: OLB, Secondary, DL
James Harrison will be 35 and he’s just not what he used to be. The Steelers need to part ways with him and bring in some extra pass-rushing help. I like Jason Worilds and think Lamarr Woodley can still get it done, but they need a third guy for the rotation. BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah could be that guy if he drops far enough, while it’s a lot more likely the Steelers will be looking at Barkevious Mingo or Alex Okafor in the first.
Pittsburgh constantly has a strong pass defense by the numbers, but they could really use some good, young talent at corner and safety. Neither is extremely pressing considering they do still have Troy Polamalu roaming the back of the defense, but he’s always hurt and they could really use more speed. It might be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, but I could see them eyeing Eric Reid in round two if he can drop to them.
The Steelers need to keep getting younger, and that continues on an aging defensive line. They do have some young talent to work with, but they could use another guy to add to the rotation. Sam Montgomery would be a nice find at the end of round two, should they choose to beef up their d-line early.
The Steelers simply need to get younger and faster. No one is pushing Polamalu out the door just yet, but James Harrison needs to go and the Steelers need to get more active on the defensive line. Adding an elite pass-rusher is key, and rounding things off with solid depth pieces on defense should do a lot for competition moving forward. On offense, Pittsburgh needs to have answer if Mike Wallace jets, while not finding a replacement for Rashard Mendenhall simply isn’t an option.
We know the Steelers can still compete with anyone – even as they stand. If they only land a running back and pass-rusher, they’ll have put themselves in a really good spot. More would be better, but nailing down those two positions is the bare minimum they absolutely have to get done before the end of the draft.