Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers are not used to what has taken place this offseason. Seeing fan favorites and former starters leave the team and new faces being added via free agency is different. Slowly but surely, the Steelers are seeing players who were a part of one or both of the two Super Bowl teams in the last 10 years leaving the organization.
Regardless of your thoughts on this roster shakeup, the Steelers have gotten younger and faster, especially on defense, and that is something that was desperately needed. The only issue with the decisions that have led the team to this place is that without those players like LaMarr Woodley and Ryan Clark who were given their walking papers, the team lacks depth in a lot of areas.
That is the main reason that this 2014 NFL Draft is by far the most important of the Mike Tomlin era. The Steelers not only need to add some NFL ready players with their top two picks, but they need to add players who will add quality depth at their position immediately.
Think of a player like Kelvin Beachum. Drafted in the 7th round in 2012, he came in and not only made the 53-man roster, but he was able to fill in at both tackle positions as well as guard during his rookie season. That is the type of player the Steelers need to be targeting. They need players with position flexibility and the ability to fill in if necessary — less projects and more proven talent.
Some view Tomlin as a horrible drafter of talent, and there are draft classes that scream mistake after mistake. After all, the 2008 draft class has zero players still on the Steelers’ roster, but Tomlin’s drafts haven’t all been busts. As poor as the 2008 draft class was, there is the 2010 draft class that only has four players who weren’t productive members of the Steelers organization for years.
Drafting football players is a weird science that cannot be predicted because you cannot predict the future. But in a draft that is deep in positions of need for the Steelers, this draft class has to be a hit rather than a miss.
Plain and simple, the 2014 Steelers’ season might hinge on the results.