The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long and proud tradition of excellence, and where that begins is with the draft. I have always been very critical of the Steelers front office and their ability to draft well on a consistent basis, but in recent years they have done an excellent job of getting value early in the draft where winning the draft really matters. This offseason is going to be vital for this franchise, because no matter how this season ends, there are going to be questions that need to be answered. There are players who are going be due money this next year, and players who are aging, and we’ve all come to understand that the Steelers are all business and they don’t tend to keep guys who they feel like can’t help them win.
When I look at NFL Draft needs I try and prioritize a top 3. Typically the first 3 rounds of the draft are far and away the most important ones and the players that come from those rounds comprise an enormous percentage of the players in the NFL Pro Bowl every year. I feel like if the Steelers can fill these 3 needs in the first 3 rounds, this team will be in a great position for the 2013 season.
For the record you see that I don’t include offensive line in this top 3. I would love to see the Steelers add some depth along the offensive line, but I have to believe that if all bodies return full strength, this is a very good starting unit. I also haven’t included wide receiver even though the future of wide out Mike Wallace is certainly in question. I just feel like there is another talent on the roster now to keep this from being a top 3 need. Same for running back. No doubt Rashard Mendenhall might not be back next year, but there is more than adequate depth among the backs to maintain the run game.
1-Safety-This is a unit that has been held together with paper clips and chewed bubble gum most of the season. Troy Polamlau has been injured for most of the year, Ryan Clark has missed some time as well, and the depth is aging and lacking talent. With the depth of the safety position in this draft I fully expect the Steelers to take a shot at one in either the 1st or 2nd round.
2-Linebacker-I leave this open in terms of inside or outside for 2 reasons. First off, the position of linebacker, particularly in a 3-4 is rather fluid and many of the prospects in this draft have the look of players who can play inside or outside. And this team needs players at both. Much will depend on the long term health of linebacker Sean Spence and if he can return. All I have heard is he may never fully recover from his preseason injury. If he can, this need would certainly slip.
3-Quarterback-What? Yeah, I said it. Steelers fans got a real taste this year of just how bad this quarterback situation is when Ben Roethlisberger went down with injury. It’s time to commit a pick to a quarterback who can provide real depth at this position. I understand this won’t be a terribly popular choice, but I’d rather see the Steelers use a 2nd or 3rd round pick on a talented young signal caller than say a 4th wide receiver or backup guard.
In terms of players to target at these spots, you will need to stay tuned for my full coverage of the 2013 NFL draft right here on Rant Sports. We are going to bring it to you real big this year, so be ready. And come find me on Twitter @nfldraftboard for all my football ramblings.