By far the biggest surprise of this NFL draft projection and 2013 season. People thought the week one loss to Tennessee was merely a fluke for the Pittsburgh Steelers due to some key injuries. So when they lost again on Monday Night Football to the Cincinnati Bengals, it raised some serious red flags. Ben Roethlisberger has serious protection problems, no running game and the defense has lost most of its bite in its pass rush. Yes, the Steelers have been a winning team for almost a decade. Yes, they won two Super Bowls in that time span but the fact is they are old and banged up in too many places. They need to reload and it’s going to take one or two tough years with high NFL draft picks for that to happen.
Erik Lambert recently projected which teams would comprise the top 10 spots in the 2014 NFL Draft. In his analysis above, Lambert put the Steelers at number 10 overall. While I agree with everything that Lambert said, Pittsburgh’s current and upcoming issues will lead to them picking in the top five, not the top 10 of next May’s draft.
As far as their offense is concerned, the Steelers’ inability to score (19 points through first two games) is going to keep them on the losing end of many of the upcoming games. Their offensive line is completely and utterly atrocious, particularly their tackles. Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams are inconsistent turnstiles, and the play along the interior has not been much better. The loss of Heath Miller has been huge, none of Pittsburgh’s wide receivers are capable of taking games over right now, and their running back situation is a complete and total “dumpster fire.”
While the Steelers’ defense has been stout at times, the lack of pocket-collapse and takeaways are enormous causes for concern. Through their first two games, Pittsburgh’s defense has recorded only one sack and ZERO takeaways! People can fawn all over how they high they rank in categories like “yards allowed,” but defenses that cannot create pressure and take the ball away are only champions on paper.
The only “winnable” games I see left on Pittsburgh’s schedule are their two matchups against the Browns and their game against the Jets on the road. This team’s issues will at least lead to 10 losses, and it would not shock me at all if this team finished 3-13 or worse.
Having a Top 5 draft pick will not be so bad for the Steelers though. They will have a chance to upgrade their offensive tackle situation with the likes of Jake Matthews, James Hurst, or Taylor Lewan. Or if they are looking to upgrade at wide receiver, explosive playmakes like Marqise Lee and Sammy Watkins could be available as well. Heck, they could even gamble on Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins to be Heath’s replacement at tight end down the road too.
Regardless of what transpires this fall, Pittsburgh’s current issues will lead to them being positioned in the top five of next May’s draft. What this team will do in that area of the draft board, I have no idea. Am I however certain that the Steelers be there after they finish what is sure to be a horrific 2013 regular season.
Follow me on Twitter: @DominicDiTolla
Follow & Like “NPC” on Facebook: Nice Pick, Cowher