If Super Bowl LII was in sight in January, it’s certainly in sight now for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Imagine if the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t make the moves they have throughout the offseason? They’d be a quarterback-less team with Le’Veon Bell rushing 1,000 times and one star wide receiver for Landry Jones to throw to.
As always, though, they persevered, made incredible decisions, and now head into training camp as one of the league’s favorites to win Super Bowl LII.
Finding a quarterback
For starters, getting Ben Roethlisberger back was priority one. However, having a backup plan needed to be a thing. Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert couldn’t head into the offseason believing Big Ben was coming back, because if he didn’t, Pittsburgh was stuck with Landry Jones.
So, they went out and scouted quarterbacks. Plenty of them actually. Pittsburgh had a few names come workout for them, all of whom could’ve easily ended up falling to the Steelers at one time or another during the 2017 NFL Draft.
Eventually, Ben decided to return, and Pittsburgh’s quarterback situation was half way solved. The other half, finding the next quarterback of Pittsburgh, still needed to be addressed. So, during the fourth round of the NFL Draft, the Steelers took a developing Josh Dobbs.
As someone who needs time to finish learning, but could one day be an outstanding NFL quarterback, Pittsburgh selected the perfect player to learn behind Big Ben and eventually take over the position.
Keeping Martavis Bryant
Next on the list was keeping Martavis Bryant. Although it wasn’t certain he would return this season following an indefinite suspension forced upon him for PED use last season, Pittsburgh had high hopes for the troubled wideout.
Well, when he was conditionally reinstated, the Steelers got him moving right away. With little time wasted, Pittsburgh began working on their dominating receiving core. Although Antonio Brown is still number one, Bryant is going to be a huge addition to join the mix of AB, Eli Rogers and now JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Getting rid of Ladarius Green
Was there really a purpose to have Ladarius Green on the roster this season? Besides money, he was nothing more than a roadblock in Jesse James and Xavier Grimble’s development. Plus, after he most likely went down with another injury, he’d be even more useless.
The Green project in Pittsburgh was a failure, but one they can recover from. It wasn’t like he spent an entire year screwing up the tight end position. All he did was miss most of 2016, let James get the feel of working as the starter, provide time for Grimble, and fail a physical.
This season, James is going to turn a lot of heads, and Grimble is going to be just as dominate. They aren’t two superstars yet, but 2017 is going to be a breakout year for both of Pittsburgh’s young tight ends.
Green may have been a mistake, but he did get the ball moving on allowing the real tight ends of the Steel City get their foot in the door.
This one is probably the least impressive. Pittsburgh didn’t really make an offseason free agency move worth talking about. Actually, the people they didn’t resign are more notable than the one’s the did.
Not bringing back Lawrence Timmons and DeAngelo Williams may have been a damper on fans’ hearts, but realistically, it was a smart move. The Steelers are looking young, and to do so, they need to start developing a younger group of players.
So, instead of making big moves in free agency, they handed the torch to a few new names, got rid of some older players, and started to stage of giving young guys the chance to shine.
How will it turn out? No one really knows yet. But if players like Vince Williams, T.J. Watt, and James Conner can perform in 2017, it’ll be a great indication that Pittsburgh made the right move.
2017 NFL Draft
The Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 NFL Draft was mind blowing. Not only did they start off with T.J. Watt, someone who can win Defensive Player of the Year in his rookie season, but they went seven rounds and eight picks of pure perfection.
They didn’t jump the gun and go quarterback and secondary player in the first two rounds. What they did was get the best available. Not only was Watt the best around at the 30th pick, but he was a major steal that late in the first round.
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Then, they followed it up with JuJu Smith-Schuster, a player who has absolutely no need to be on this team, but was by far the best around late in the second round. So, instead of filling a void with decreased talent, they added someone who’s going to make their receiving core the best in the NFL.
The third round was when they started to fill needs. James Conner in the third round wasn’t just a great pick for a backup running back, but he’s a hometown hero and already one of the team’s most well-liked players. Oh, and he’s going to do as much, if not more, than what DeAngelo Williams has done over the last two years.
Cameron Sutton, the team’s other (technically their first) third round pick is even more impressive than Conner. Maybe he’s not going to start on the outside in 2017, but as a quality slot corner, Sutton is going to have a tremendous impact on this secondary moving forward.
Not only does he offer production on the inside that the Steelers didn’t have last year, but he’s someone who can one day become just as good as Artie Burns or Ross Cockrell. By the start of 2018, it wouldn’t be surprising if Burns and Sutton play on the outside with Cockrell and Senquez Golson working from the nickel.
And then there was Josh Dobbs. The fourth round quarterback who now heads to Pittsburgh with a bright future but time to grow. Oh, and he was only a fourth-round pick.
Not only did the Steelers get their quarterback of the future, but they did it in the middle of the draft. With a class this loaded, they took full advantage of picking the best around and waiting to get probably the most valuable pick towards the later end of the draft.
Did they wait until no one was around? No. They found someone they liked prior to the draft, waited it out, and took him before someone else did. There isn’t a situation where they could’ve been more perfect.
The rest of the draft was just as phenomenal. Colin Holba, a sixth round long snapper has already taken over the position. No one really cares about a long snapper draft pick, but when he replaces your veteran, Greg Warren, there’s reason to talk about it.
Brian Allen and Keion Adams may be fighting for a roster spot this season, but as late-round rookies, these two have bright futures ahead. Maybe they don’t crack the 53-man roster this time around, but next year, there’s little doubt they won’t have some impact on this team.
Overall – this was the best Steelers draft in a long time. The sky was the limit before the draft started, but afterward, Pittsburgh was immediately the favorite to end the Patriots repeat hopes.
As long as everyone stays healthy, and this team can click right from the jump, there’s no reason the Steelers don’t find themselves walking away with ring number seven after the 2017 season.