It is around this time of year that those pesky mock drafts flood the web, trying to give every fanbase a glimpse of what their team might do with their specific draft pick per round. If you’ve followed football and the NFL Draft long enough, however, you’ll know that those mock drafts are never correct because no one can predict what other teams will do in terms of trading draft picks, surprise picks or even the occasional player falling to a spot that wasn’t expected.
For all those reasons and more, I don’t do mock drafts. Covering the Pittsburgh Steelers and looking at the team’s needs for the 2014 season, it is obvious that the Steelers need to target a playmaker in the upcoming draft. That might sound vague and lacking any sort of specificity, but let me explain what I am referring to.
From 2009-2012, the Steelers used their top draft pick on a lineman. Ziggy Hood, Maurkice Pouncey, Cam Heyward and David DeCastro all rounded out the team’s first-round picks during that time. It wasn’t until last year’s selection of Jarvis Jones in the first round that the Steelers finally bucked the trend of drafting linemen by selecting a playmaker in the top round.
The Steelers will select 15th this year at the draft, which is the highest they’ve drafted since 2007, when they selected Lawrence Timmons the first round. As enticing as it might be to select an offensive tackle or a defensive end, the Steelers lack playmakers on both offense and defense — whether that is a hard-hitting safety with ball-hawking skills, a wide receiver that has the ability to stretch the field vertically, or an athletic tight end that will compliment Heath Miller and make the passing game that much more versatile come next fall.
The Steelers are a team in flux, transitioning from old to new. What needs to happen now is for key players to be put in place to help the team succeed. The Steelers must simply find a player with the 15th pick that can not only play, but play now. Could it be that tall wide receiver Ben Roethlisberger has requested since Plaxico Burress left the first time around? Could it be a cornerback that has “shutdown” written all over him? It might even be another linebacker with pass rushing ability unlike any other.
So, go read your mock drafts and try to predict the future, but when the rubber meets the road, the Steelers need a playmaker with their first-round pick.