Opinion: With no real glaring need, Steelers have options in draft

The Steelers need to pick up their play if this season is going to be salvaged.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Steelers need to pick up their play if this season is going to be salvaged.

Austin Bechtold, Staff Writer

The NFL Draft is this Thursday and the Steelers have not made anything known about who they are intending to select with the 28th pick in the first round.

Pittsburgh’s top priorities going into the offseason were to find both a starting safety and middle linebacker, and to sign Le’Veon Bell.

Many analysts are saying that middle linebacker is the route to go in round one, and most have the Steelers selecting Alabama’s Rashaan Evans. He is a good tackling linebacker with speed who has plenty of experience playing in big games.

Jon Bostic, previously of the Indianapolis Colts, was signed to a two-year deal to start next to Vince Williams. The No. 1 need for Pittsburgh is middle linebacker and Bostic is only seen as a placeholder for either a high draft pick or the potential return of Ryan Shazier in 2019.

One backer to look out for is Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch. There have been questions about his medical records, which could cause him to fall to the Steelers.       

Stanford safety Justin Reid has also been a popular name floating around the Steelers and fits the build for the style Pittsburgh likes to play.

The team addressed the safety position earlier in the offseason, signing former Packer Morgan Burnett to a three-year deal, but still could look for a strong tackler to play in the box.

Three players from two different positions of strength on offense could intrigue the Steelers.

The first is running back Derrius Guice from LSU. The Steelers have looked extensively into Guice, who also has spotty medicals, to potentially take over for Le’Veon Bell.

If Bell finally signs a long-term deal with Pittsburgh this offseason, then none of this matters. But if talks fall through again and more tension is created between Bell’s reps and the organization, he could walk away in 2019.

The Steelers could also go out on a limb and select their next franchise quarterback somewhere in the first round. Two QBs, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, could be available when Pittsburgh picks. Either would sit behind Ben Roethlisberger for however many years Ben would continue to play and then step right in when Roethlisberger decides to hang it up.

The Steelers will pick the best player on their board at the time of selection, as the last time the team traded up was moving 13 spots in 2003 to select safety Troy Polamalu from USC. It worked out pretty well.

The Steelers have had success the last two years in the draft, selecting players like Artie Burns, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and T.J. Watt. If the Steelers can hit home runs again with their high draft picks, then all will be well in Steeler Country.