After a long way, the 2014 NFL Draft has finally arrived. After the NFL Scouting combine, on-site visits, personal interviews, pro days, 40 yard dashes, agent rumors and thousands upon thousands of hours of tape, the time has finally come to pick players.
The next big question is who will the Pittsburgh Steelers pick? The answer here is “I don’t know,” which as about as truthful as anyone inside or outside the South Side can say. You never know what will happen.
The big question after this, is who should the Pittsburgh Steelers pick? On that front any number of names are in play including (but certainly not limited to):
- cornerback Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State,
- cornerback Kyle Fuller of Virginia Tech,
- wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. of LSU,
- cornerback Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State,
- offensive tackle Taylor Lewan or Michigan
Who will it be and who should it be? Now here’s an answer you’re not likely to find elsewhere:
- I have no idea. None. Zero. Zip.
The last player I actively wanted the Steelers to draft was Heyward. That’s Iron Head Craig Heyward, and that was only because I saw some ESPN highlights of him smashing through defensive lines for Pitt. Even when I lived in the US I didn’t follow college football, and won’t try to offer an opnion.
What I can offer, however, is an opinion on what the Pittsburgh Steelers NEED to get out of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Summary of Steelers Needs
Over the past several weeks, Steel Curtain Rising has done its best to isolate the Steelers needs following the breakdown seen here.
In what is purely a numbers question, defensive line is the Steelers greatest need, narrowly trumping that of cornerback, which edges out wide receiver on quantity but perhaps not quality. These are indisputably the Steelers top three needs.
Next comes outside linebacker – this would be lower if Jason Worilds status was secure, but its not and even if it was there’s no depth there. Following outside linebacker you have offensive tackle, simply because of contracts and questions about Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams.
Needs at center, again with an eye towards Maurkice Pouncey’s impending free agency, comes out ahead of running back. Taken by itself, guard can be considered moderate low need, below inside linebacker.
After that, you have tight end and safety, both of which are moderate low, and quarterback, which is low.
Pittsburgh Steelers Annual Draft Need Matrix
None of this should suggest the Steelers should draft based on need. When you draft on need, Troy Edwards happens. No, the Steelers draft-need matrix is only intended to guide situations where several players grade out equally.
Stated simply, the Steelers 2014 NFL Draft Need Matrix breaks down on 4 tiers:
- Defensive line need trumps Pittsburgh’s cornerback need, which takes priority over needs at wide receiver
- Outside linebacker need outweighs Steelers need at offensive tackle
- Need at center outranks the Steelers need at running back, again by a wide margin, which edges out inside linebacker which outweighs guard by a count
- Steelers future needs at tight end are more urgent than they are at safety, and both of these greatly out pace any needs at quarterback.
Who knows how all of this plays out? They key, as always, is for Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin to bring in good football players, as they did during 2007 and 2010 NFL Drafts (and 2009).
While the players taken in this week might only have a marginal impact on the field in 2014, they Steelers 2014 Draft Class could well determine whether the Steelers get a serious shot at another Lombardi with Ben Roethlisberger.
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