Time to blow it up: a foolproof plan to rebuild the Steelers in 2024

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin / Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
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Steelers attack plan for the draft

Let me be upfront and say that I am heavily scouting this quarterback class. Given the fallout of the Rudolph Pickett situation (and Pickett’s general lack of success), I want to find a franchise guy. I’m willing to wait until 2025 to do so if need be, but if the opportunity presents itself this year I’m pouncing.

My dream quarterback is Drake Maye, but he is likely locked into the first or second pick. If he were to slide to around pick eight or so, I would jump up for him and be willing to trade future picks to acquire him. He is everything you want in a modern quarterback, from his size, athleticism, and crazy arm talent. He may need a few years to refine his play, but he has the makings of a top quarterback.

Behind him is Jayden Daniels, who has similarly good size and athleticism but most of his traits are a tick or two below Maye. I would be willing to do a smaller move up for him if he were to fall into the teens of the draft. I could also be convinced to draft Michael Penix, but I don’t think I would make a major move up for him.

There is no other quarterback I’m interested in, but if one of those three scenarios occurred, I’m making my move. Assuming that doesn’t happen, my focus shifts to the offensive line. Center is the biggest need, but there isn’t a blue-chip prospect that will likely crack the first round. We’ve seen this trend in recent years, as the top centers get pushed down boards.

Instead, I’m looking at another offensive tackle. The top of this class is deep, and while I am a slight Moore fan, this team needs another good tackle to propel this line and to pair with 2023 first-round tackle Jones. While Joe Alt will more than likely be gone, the remainder of the class could be up for grabs.

Olumuyiwa Fashanu is the prototype for a modern tackle and would pair well with the brute strength of Jones on the right side. If the team wants Jones back to the left, adding a JC Latham or Amarius Mims would make sense. Any of those three would be instant upgrades and set this line up for success. I could also see at least one of them making it to the Steelers pick.

If tackle doesn’t work out, defensive line would be my next target, but there isn’t a good scheme fit for the Steelers. Instead, cornerback would have to be next. While I’m fine seeing what the young options can do, Kool-Aid McKinstry or Nate Wiggins would likely be better options. I’m not a huge fan of this route, but given the need I would at least consider it.

Finally, and perhaps a sleeper pick, would be a receiver. An athletic marvel like Xavier Legette could be used all over the offense (and allow the other receivers to move around more) while Emeka Egbuka could fill in as a stellar slot receiver. That all said, I’m going to move forward with tackle as my first pick.

The second round will be dedicated to landing my center, and I would take any of Sedrick Van Pran, Jackson Powers-Johnson, or Zach Frazier in that order. Van Pran has the most potential, but any of the three can step in and start from day one.

Third round I would have Maason Smith circled as my best-case scenario. He has the rare size that the Steelers covet for their ends, and while his hype has died down, he has all of the tools to be good. He can sit and learn right now and eventually step in for Heyward. Then a receiver or cornerback is logical here.

Day three can and should be open to the best players on your board. Picking purely for need here is nonsensical. Ideally, though, you can land a linebacker to work into the rotation as well as the aforementioned cornerback/receiver, some safety depth, reserve defensive linemen, a running back, and so on.