While four teams remain in the NFL Playoffs, I’m already interested in where the Pittsburgh Steelers are going in terms of the 2013 season.
Last night, my partner-in-crime and I were very excited to be joined by Shane Hallam of www.draftcountdown.com to help us breakdown some possible directions the Steelers might go during the NFL Draft in April.
Shane did an excellent job of breaking down several key positions in which the Steelers might be going including safety, inside backer, outside backer, running back and wide receiver.
What the three of us concluded was that the Steelers are in a position where more than ever, the selections made ahead of them will dictate their move as it did last year. The exception is that last season, an offensive lineman was priority number one and it worked in our favor. This year, there are numerous options available in a deep, but not overly talented draft. What that means Steelers’ fans is that you can expect to hear the inevitable ‘best player available’ moniker tossed around a lot when the Steelers are choosing and not just in the first round. Typically that phrase is used as the draft enters its’ final rounds but the Steelers have more needs than you might think.
Do you draft an inside linebacker to replace Larry Foote?
Depending on James Harrison’s contract situation, do you look for a pass-rushing outside linebacker?
Troy Polamalu has spent a great deal of the last few years on the sidelines and Ryan Clark isn’t getting any younger. Do you go with a safety?
There are currently no running backs on this roster under contract for 2013. Do you possibly pick a back in the first or second round?
What about defensive line? Will Casey Hampton be back?
If Mike Wallace leaves via free agency, do you look for his replacement with that first selection?
If Willie Colon becomes a cap casualty does left guard become the target?
See where I’m going with this people? The Pittsburgh Steelers cannot afford to dwell on one position unless something out of the ordinary happens prior to the draft like an early retirement, trade or free agent signing.
Don’t forget, Keenan Lewis will be on the market if the Steelers can’t lock him up long-term. This of course would create a need for a nickel back at the very least. It’s no secret this is an aging Steelers’ football team that must gain youth and speed in a hurry if it wants to get back to the playoffs next season.
Obviously things can change between now and April in a myriad of ways, but what won’t change is the need for the best player available at pick #17 regardless of his position.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.