It’s time once more for the column you hate to like: “What the Steelers didn’t get within the draft.”
Nicely, I really like this column. My readers appear to hate it. However you certain do refill my inbox and Twitter mentions to inform me as a lot. So it’s essential to at the least stay up for studying it so you may rip me for it.
And that’s simply advantageous by me.
I get it. After the NFL Draft ends, no fan base needs to suppose that wants stay. At that time, the roster is completely positioned for a 17-0 run to the Tremendous Bowl.
Plus, hey, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted one other Heyward. With two Heywards, two Watts, two Edmunds and two Davis brothers on the identical roster, how might they presumably lose a recreation now, proper?
To not point out, the entrance workplace may need drafted the quarterback of the long run in Kenny Pickett, crammed two of their three departures at extensive receiver and acquired depth at defensive finish.
Sadly, I do suppose just a few points nonetheless must be addressed between now and the beginning of the season.
In any case, the draft is just seven rounds lengthy, and with all of the questions this staff confronted because it scraped itself off the turf in Kansas Metropolis following their first-round playoff loss, they couldn’t have all presumably been answered in a single offseason.
Defensive again depth
Or perhaps even a starter at cornerback?
I imply, between Levi Wallace, Ahkello Witherspoon, Justin Layne and Cameron Sutton do any of them stand out as No. 1 lockdown nook? Or is it simply form of a bunch of so-so guys?
As for security, the Steelers are getting each of their starters again: Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds. However Edmunds is just returning on a one-year deal, nonetheless with no clear-cut successor. Until Karl Joseph, Miles Killebrew or Tre Norwood abruptly present beginning potential this 12 months, they is likely to be in the identical place as they have been the week earlier than the draft, with a obtrusive gap at that place.
Heading into the draft, some thought the Steelers is likely to be smart to spend a first-round decide on Michigan’s Dax Hill or Georgia’s Lewis Cine even after Edmunds re-signed. These two ended up going because the final two picks within the first spherical to the Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings, respectively. However the Steelers went with Pickett at No. 20 as a substitute.
Possibly defensive again is a place that would’ve been addressed if the staff hadn’t traded away its fifth-rounder when it was in a pinch to accumulate Avery Williamson from the New York Jets following Devin Bush’s damage in 2020.
“Each time you go right into a draft, you want you had extra (picks),” GM Kevin Colbert mentioned. “You perceive that you possibly can have that lull (after the fourth spherical), and you want you possibly can have (that decide). However you didn’t. The fact is coming away with seven picks, it was good.”
The Steelers have loads of numbers at defensive again. Apart from Fitzpatrick, although, I query how a lot star energy exists and if there’s a nook really able to being what Joe Haden was for this group the previous 5 years.
A risk to begin at deal with
Like at defensive again, the Steelers appear to be much more assured of their depth chart at this place than I’m.
Additionally just like defensive again, I feel you may take a look at the prospect of enhancing the expertise that’s already there versus simply filling holes.
The franchise acquired extra out of 2021 fourth-round draft alternative Dan Moore Jr. at left deal with than anticipated in his rookie season. However coach Mike Tomlin and Colbert seem increased on him and proper deal with Chuks Okorafor than I feel they need to be.
To the tune of a three-year, $29.25 million contract this offseason for Okorafor.
“We added to that blend in free company,” Tomlin mentioned of the offensive line and secondary. “There are two methods we add to that expertise pool. Free company and draft. We felt actually snug with what we have been capable of do in free company and each rooms.”
That’s true with Wallace at nook and with Mason Cole and James Daniels alongside the inside of the offensive line. However I’d nonetheless prefer to see an improve behind Moore and Okorafor at deal with, if not somebody higher than them to ultimately win the beginning job.
However that in all probability gained’t occur till subsequent 12 months — if in any respect.
One other choice to spell Najee Harris
For now, it seems Benny Snell continues to be the most effective wager to be Najee Harris’ backup. He totaled solely 98 yards on 27 carries for a 2.7-yard common final season. He has mixed for 892 yards in his profession.
Anthony McFarland hasn’t been capable of keep away from damage or work his means into the lineup fairly often. He managed simply 42 touches in his first two years.
The membership was very lucky that Harris stayed as wholesome as he did after 381 touches a season in the past. He wants some significant assist, and the Steelers want a greater second again in case Harris will get harm for a major stretch of time in 2022.
A possible Devin Bush alternative
There was one on the board within the first spherical when the Steelers took Pickett. That was Devin Lloyd from Utah. He was chosen twenty seventh by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
5 others went between Pickett and when the Steelers took DeMarvin Leal in Spherical 3. A pair of respectable prospects in Georgia’s Channing Tindall and Wisconsin’s Leo Chenal have been nonetheless on the board after Leal’s identify was known as.
Colbert wouldn’t commit come what may on Bush’s fifth-year possibility when he was requested concerning the subject Saturday. However overlook changing him subsequent 12 months. The Steelers want extra high quality play at that place this 12 months.
The hope is Myles Jack might be a step up from Joe Schobert. Robert Spillane is a dependable backup. Nevertheless, the Steelers are nonetheless looking for beginning high quality efficiency at that spot.
A 3rd outdoors linebacker
The Steelers had this similar void after final 12 months’s draft. They thought they addressed it previous to the 2021 season when Melvin Ingram signed. Initially, that appeared to be fairly a discover.
It didn’t find yourself being that means as Ingram was traded to Kansas Metropolis earlier than the season ended. Taco Charlton has additionally moved on to New Orleans.
“It’s not overly regarding. However it is usually one thing we’re able to addressing,” Tomlin mentioned of the depth at outdoors linebacker.
For now, Derek Tuszka seems to be like the subsequent man up behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.
Tim Benz is a Tribune-Assessment employees author. You’ll be able to contact Tim at email@example.com or by way of Twitter. All tweets might be reposted. All emails are topic to publication except specified in any other case.