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Steelers’ Draft Needs Ranked

The 2017 free agency frenzy has died down, and we’re now just about three weeks away from the draft. There has already been a good amount of roster turnover throughout the league, but the draft still has the potential to change everything. As usual, the Pittsburgh Steelers made only depth signings in March and April (full list here), while allowing some of their household names to walk. Here’s a breakdown of their positions of need, as well as some notable pre-draft visits with incoming rookies.

 

1. OLB

Bud Dupree, the Steelers’ 1st-round selection two years ago, is starting to look like an impact player at the LOLB position, however, there are still questions opposite him. James Harrison is still there, and playing as effectively as ever at age 38, but the team let Jarvis Jones depart via free agency this offseason. Jones was a 1st-round pick back in 2013, and was supposed to transition into the starting role over the already aging Harrison. Incredibly, Harrison remained the more effective player for all four years Jones was here, so it’s time for Pittsburgh to try again.

Notable visits:

  • Taco Charlton (Michigan)
  • Vince Biegel (Wisconsin)
  • Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt)
  • Takkarist McKinley (UCLA)
  • Carroll Phillips (Illinois)

 

2. ILB

The loss of Lawrence Timmons will hurt, despite how good his presumed replacement Vince Williams looked in limited 2016 action. Timmons had 100+ tackles in five straight seasons for the Steelers and was a great run stuffer. Where he was less effective was in the passing game, where his lack of speed was a liability. Pittsburgh should target a quicker ILB with a skillset similar to their other ILB, Ryan Shazier.

Notable visits:

  • Jarrad Davis (Florida)
  • Austin Calitro (Villanova)
  • Raekwon McMillian (Ohio State)

 

3. CB

The Steelers’ secondary was a weakness last year, though rookies Artie Burns (SS) and Sean Davis (CB) made big impacts and looked very promising. The team could use more depth behind Ross Cockrell and 32-year-old William Gay. This is a strong draft class for DBs and Pittsburgh should take advantage.

Notable visits:

  • Jourdan Lewis (Michigan)
  • Cameron Sutton (Tennessee)

 

4. RB

It’s looking like DeAngelo Williams won’t return to Pittsburgh for 2016. It’s understandable, despite the success he’s had as Le’Veon Bell’s backup. The team signed Knile Davis, but he’s always been more effective returning kicks than he has running the football. This is a deep draft for RB, so the Steelers won’t have to use an early pick to improve their depth at the position.

Notable visits:

  • James Conner (Pittsburgh)
  • Wayne Gallman (Clemson)
  • Marlon Mack (South Florida)

 

5. QB

For the past 13 years there has been no question about who the Steelers’ starting QB would be, and there still aren’t – for this season. Ben Roethlisberger flirted with retirement this offseason, and recently announced he will return for 2017. Nobody really expected him to step away, but the fact that it’s on his mind is a sign that the Steelers should start to think about who will be the guy under center when that day does eventually come. Despite the new two-year contract, I don’t believe that guy is Landry Jones. This isn’t a particularly strong draft class for quarterbacks, but if someone they like falls to the right spot, the Steelers should pull the trigger and start developing someone for life after Big Ben.

Notable visits:

  • Josh Dobbs (Tennessee)
  • Pat Mahomes (Texas Tech)
  • Nathan Peterman (Pittsburgh)

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