The Steelers have ignored some positions in the NFL Draft over the years and they are starting to feel the effects of it. Here’s what they need to fix.
It’s hard to fault Kevin Colbert and the Steelers front office too much for the job they have done drafting over the past decade. Pittsburgh struck gold on players like Cameron Heyward, David DeCastro, Le’Veon Bell, and T.J. Watt.
However, they also have their share of misses thrown in there as well. Jarvis Jones and Artie Burns are examples of recent first-round busts. It took Bud Dupree five years to get going, and the jury is still out on Terrell Edmunds.
But regardless of how you feel about the quality of Pittsburgh’s drafting, one thing is for certain: They have neglected some positions for too long. Here are three positions the Steelers haven’t spent enough draft capital on in recent years:
When we think of ‘Steelers tight end’ we think of Heath Miller. The Pro Bowl tight end was the last first-round pick Pittsburgh used on the position all the way back in 2005. With 22 starters on the team, you can’t expect the front office to throw a first-round pick into the position every decade, but the Steelers elected to ignore the position altogether.
Pittsburgh hasn’t spent more than a fifth-round pick at the position since they took Matt Spaeth in the 3rd round of 2007. Instead, the Steelers have traded for players like Ladarius Green and Vance McDonald. But the great tight ends (like Heath) aren’t given away like that. The Steelers need to invest more draft resources on this position.
The Steelers spend a 3rd round pick on Chukwuma Okafor back in 2018, but before that, what have they done to help this position? Mike Munchak was an excellent offensive line coach who knew how to develop players, but without him, we’ve already seen a dip in offensive line performances.
2012 was the last time the Steelers took an offensive lineman higher than the third round (Mike Adams). Though Pittsburgh has had such great success with undrafted lineman in recent years, they can’t expect that trend to continue. Alejandro Villanueva turns 32 years old this season and there are a lot of question marks outside of him. Pittsburgh needs to consider offensive tackle in the near future.
Interior offensive line
Most of what I said about the offensive tackles can be used for the interior line as well. Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro were fantastic first-round picks back in 2010 and 2012, respectively. However, Pouncey is starting to show his age, and Ramon Foster is 34 years old and likely in his last NFL season.
B.J. Finney has been a quality interior swing player over the last four years, but he will likely look for starting work in free agency this year. The Steelers have not spent a pick on an interior offensive lineman since taking Wesley Johnson in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. That has to change soon.
The Steelers have still been one of the better drafting teams in the NFL as of late, but the years of neglecting tight end and the offensive line are starting to catch up with them. They need to consider tweaking their draft philosophy.