2018 NFL Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers team needs, draft picks, prospects to watch
With their 2017 season over, it's time for Steelers fans to turn their attention to the draft
The Steelers enter the 2018 offseason much like they did a year ago, wondering about Big Ben's future and facing the prospect of franchising Le'Veon Bell unless a long-term deal can be worked out. But the defense appeared to make strides in 2017, giving the team a clear path toward remaining a contender long-term even if the offensive core can't be kept together for eternity. What should the team look to address this offseason? Let's dive in.
2018 draft picks
- Round 1: Pittsburgh
- Round 2: Pittsburgh
- Round 3: Pittsburgh
- Round 4: None
- Round 5: Pittsburgh, San Francisco
- Round 6: None
- Round 7: Pittsburgh, N.Y. Giants*
When the Steelers traded for tight end Vance McDonald, they swapped their fourth-rounder for San Francisco's fifth, and that's going to be a much future drop on Day 3 after the 49ers engineered a five-game winning streak to end the season. The Steelers sent their sixth-rounder to the Browns for Justin Gilbert, then got it back in the Sammie Coates trade before dealing it away again a day later to acquire J.J. Wilcox from the Bucs. The Giants' seventh-rounder was conditionally acquired for Ross Cockrell.
Biggest offseason needs
- Outside linebacker
- Inside linebacker
The offense is basically all set to return, but the possibility of Ben Roethlisberger deciding to hang up his cleats will determine how the team approaches the offseason. Even if Roethlisberger does return in 2018, this year's draft class could provide the Steelers the opportunity to get an heir apparent in place.
On defense, the devastating injury to Ryan Shazier means the Steelers will need to find some help on the second level. And they could also add another pass-rusher to the mix on the outside to eventually pair with dynamic rookie T.J. Watt in the starting lineup. At safety, Sean Davis took a step back in his second season, while cutting Mike Mitchell could save the team $6.4 million on the cap. Bringing in fresh talent at the position could help shore up one of the team's few positional weaknesses.
Prospects to watch
If the Steelers want to continue with a big pocket passer who's unafraid to take shots downfield, Rudolph could be a top Steelers target. He'd be the ideal signal-caller to learn the nuances of the game from Ben Roethlisberger.
Holland's an electric outside rusher capable of tightly bending to the quarterback. He could add some size to become more of an asset against the run, but the Steelers could be intrigued to pair him with Watt for the next decade.
Sam shouldn't be thought of as someone who can totally replace the speed of Shazier, but he's a similar type of "light" linebacker who wins with quickness to the ball. He'll likely be a mid-round selection.
Blanding is a former five-star recruit who was a tackling machine at Virginia. He has the speed to be a productive free safety but right now is more effective closer to the line as a hybrid linebacker.
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