Ben’s return changes draft plans for the Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Ben Roethlisberger
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 14: Ben Roethlisberger /

The Pittsburgh Steelers now need a new approach to the 2018 NFL Draft.

There is at least some good news coming out of Pittsburgh the last few days. The Steelers long-time quarterback has put to bed the speculation that he will not be returning next season. There has even been reports that he wants to play the next three years.

This is a far cry from the end of the season a year ago when Roethlisberger said he was not sure he would return. This decision has taken the pressure off the Steelers to draft a quarterback. The fact that Roethlisberger sounds like he will play a few more years makes quarterback even a position that the Steelers ought to wait a year to draft.

That is good because the Steelers are set to pick 28th in the draft and so that does not give them many options when drafting a quarterback of the future.

Another consequence of this decision is that the strategy changes for the Steelers to go after another Super Bowl. It may be a few more years until the Steelers think about rebuilding. They may want to stick with the talent that they already have on offense in the near future. Instead, the urgency now builds to vamp up the defense. I could see the top three picks all going to defensive positions.

The first big need the Steelers have going into the draft is inside linebacker. For now, you have to think they will want to bring back Sean Spence to be the MACK linebacker if for no other reason to be a placeholder until the draft. However, the loss of Ryan Shazier puts a big question mark at that position. The Steelers would like to get a plug and play inside linebacker in the first couple rounds of the draft.

The Steelers also need to upgrade the safety position. Mike Mitchell had a less than stellar season and now there is some question as to whether he is starting to decline in his career. He is a violent player which upsets some fans of the team. Sean Davis was also a weak spot in the defense for the Steelers. The Steelers will want a safety first to put in a dime package as they used to do with Will Allen. They also may want a safety to play over Sean Davis. The third reason they would want a safety is to eventually replace Mike Mitchell.

The Steelers also have a need at outside linebacker. Bud Dupree has not lived up to expectations and will be a free agent after the 2018 season unless the Steelers pick up his fifth-year option which would cost them upwards of $9.8 million a season.

Next: Why the Steelers shouldn't pick up Dupree's option

The Steelers are also lacking depth at the position as Anthony Chickillo is a restricted free agent and even if he is retained, we don’t know how long Arthur Moats can be a depth player at outside linebacker. Again, the Steelers will have to draft an outside linebacker.