Draft talk is in full swing at this point, and if free agency was anything for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it was an indication of what the Steelers are going to do in the draft. The Steelers were much more active in free agency this year than many other in recent memory, signing two high profile free agents, Mike Mitchell and Legarrette Blount, and several others that will play big roles for the team, Lance Moore, Cam Thomas, Cody Wallace. Some positions of need were solidified in free agency, other positions were neglected in free agency, ones that are in desperate need. Here’s some things that free agency taught us.
Safety Set For the Future
The Steelers have had one of best safety duos in the league for the past 8 season, unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu are on their last legs as players in the NFL, and Clark doesn’t even play for the team anymore after signing with the Redskins. Safety looked like an issue after both backup safeties, Will Allen and Ryan Mundy, were sent packing last season. The Steelers went on to draft Troy Polamalu’s eventual replacement, Shamarko Thomas. But with every Batman there has to be a Robin, so the Steelers signed Mike Mitchell this offseason to a 5 year deal. The plan is to continue with the safety duos from Clark and Polamalu to Thomas and Mitchell. Not only do the Steelers have Thomas, but they have veteran Will Allen as a fourth safety. After him is Robert Golden, not too bad for a fifth safety. At several points in the offseason, experts thought the Steelers would match Thomas with a safety in the first round, but now with talented starters and lots of depth at the position, safety could be a position that would be neglected all together in the draft.
Running Back Depth Still Needed
Le’Veon Bell is the unquestioned starter next season and will get the bulk of the carries and be the featured back, regardless of the signing of Legarrette Blount. The two, however will make a great 1-2 punch on opposing defenses, letting Bell use his athleticism and elusiveness to get the big yards while handing the ball off to Blount inside the 5 for a 7 points. However, Blount and Bell are the only two running backs on the roster with an NFL carry. The Steelers need at least another running back, and I think the options are pretty clear cut. The Steelers need a smaller, shiftier, speed back to pair with Blount and Bell. Blount is the big back, Bell is the featured back a mix of speed and size, and a small back to break it for the big yards and trick plays, and also for use on special teams. There are several backs that could be just that found later in the draft, most notably DeAnthony Thomas from Oregon, a personal favorite of mine. Expect a running back to be taken anywhere after the third round, as it’s still considered a need.
Cornerback Will Be Addressed Early
Cornerback was considered one of the biggest needs at the beginning of free agency. After free agency, it escalated from one of the biggest need to the single biggest need for the Steelers right now. They only have 3 on the roster with any experience, Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, and William Gay. The cornerback position is as deep in the draft as it possible ever has been, but the top couple corners have rare talent that is very enticing. I have said for a while now that the Steelers will go corner in the first round. I have been told that they will go wide receiver, nose tackle and safety, yet all three were addressed in free agency and corner wasn’t. After free agency, I am as convinced as one can possible be that corner will be taken in the first round. IF not, it will be taken in the second.
Those are just a few things we learned from free agencies impact on the draft. There are other positions with questions that need to be answered, such as defensive line and wide receiver. However, these are the three most important free agent things that have affected the Steelers draft plan.
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