The Pittsburgh Steelers found a way to rebound from a horrid 0-4 hole in 2013, finishing the season on a dramatic 8-4 run before missing out on the playoffs. They have some issues on the defensive side of the ball and may want to add an offensive play-maker, but once again still have the necessary tools to compete for the AFC North division crown.
Whether or not they can win the division title and make a deep playoff run, however, could come down to how good of a draft they have this year. Let’s break things down on both sides of the ball and see exactly where the yellow and black need to get better in the 2014 NFL Draft:
Offensive needs: WR, OL, TE
Pittsburgh has lost Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders in back to back seasons. They did add Lance Moore and Markus Wheaton could bust out in 2014, but both of those guys are probably best served in the slot. There is talk that the yellow and black could get Big Ben a big target. If Mike Evans is still around in the first round, he could make a lot of sense. Speaking of which, Heath Miller is aging and returned from a serious knee injury last year, so now might be a good time to grab a young, big bodied tight end. This is probably an either/or situation, but Jace Amaro or Eric Ebron would deserve consideration, either way. Troy Niklas is another option they might consider in the second or third round.
Pittsburgh can always use general depth on the offensive line. They could use depth at center and at tackle. Landing someone like David Yankey would probably work, while Arkansas center Travis Swanson would be fantastic depth behind Maurkice Pouncey, who is returning from a shredded knee.
Defensive needs: CB, DL, S
The Steelers need cornerback help pretty badly. Ike Taylor is rapidly aging and isn’t what he once was, so they need a talented corner who can come in and relieve him at least partially right away. If they don’t make the splash with a big wide receiver in the first round, corner should be the way to go. Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard should be their targets.
The defensive line in general could use some depth. Pittsburgh picked up Cameron Heyward’s option for next season, which was a fantastic move, but they could use another body to add to the rotation at the ends. Another space eater for the inside isn’t a bad idea, either. Defensive end is the likely target here, though, so perhaps they look at someone like Ra’Shede Hageman or Timmy Jernigan early. If not, they’ll try to grab a high upside guy in the next few rounds.
Safety isn’t nearly the problem it was now that Michael Mitchell was brought in, but I’m not sure the Steelers are completely out of the woods, either. Troy Polomalu is still nearing the end, so it wouldn’t be the worst idea to think ahead here. That doesn’t mean they have to spend a first rounder on a stud safety, but if Jimmie Ward is sitting there in round two, they might consider snatching him up. Someone like Kansas State’s Ty Zimmerman in the third or fourth round might be more ideal.
*Photo credit – SteelCityHobbies via wiki commons.