When it comes to the draft, the Steelers clearly have a lot of needs to fill, and it could have been much worse had either Steve McClendon or Emmanuel Sanders been signed away. Having lost several players to free agency at the wide receiver, cornerback, offensive line, and linebacker position, you would think that the Steelers have to make sure they get the best player to fill that role.
However, there is another area in which the Steelers have been severely lacking since last year: leadership.
After losing noted locker room leaders in James Farrior, Hines Ward, and Aaron Smith last offseason, the Steelers now lost James Harrison, and it remains to be seen if anyone is capable of stepping up to take the mantle of this team. Ben Roethlisberger has done a decent job on the offensive side, and Ryan Clark is a very vocal player, but there are still questions surrounding whether or not the Steelers have any veritable leaders that players will do anything for.
Thus, when the Steelers are looking to draft players to help their team, are they going to be looking for people like Alec Ogletree and Tyrann Mathieu? After all, there is no denying that those two prospects are incredibly talented and could almost instantly help the team. Unfortunately, there are also off-the-field issues where both are concerned, and I do not believe that Pittsburgh is a stable enough locker room to handle distractions.
On the flip side, how can you evaluate leadership from a collegiate perspective? Sure, there are your rah-rah types and your team captains, but those types do not always translate to being locker room leaders. Maurkice Pouncey and Antonio Brown have stepped up somewhat to try and take even younger players under their wings, but there’s no one that you know will be able to truly motivate this team into victory.
Sadly, most draft websites do not list leadership traits under pros or cons, as they are focused mostly on the talent that each and every former collegiate player brings. However, it is definitely something to keep in the back of your mind in case the Steelers do pass up on Alec Ogletree in the first and Tyrann Mathieu in the 2nd/3rd (which are the rounds these players would most likely go had it not been for their character concerns).
- David Chough
David Chough is also the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the sports analysis website, The Final Points (http://thefinalpoints.com).