Steelers’ Draft Picks Will Be Referendum on Current Roster

Cortez+Allen+Washington+Redskins+v+Pittsburgh+z6ltdvxB4fUlYes, I’m well aware that every draft is a referendum on the current roster for every team but for the Pittsburgh Steelers it takes on special significance when you look at the needs and potential needs of this team heading into 2014. 

With cornerback, wide receiver, defensive lineman and inside linebacker being at the top of the list, I’m breaking down why the current players at those positions might not be cutting the mustard.

Cornerback – No one really questions the fact that Ike Taylor is on his last legs and a replacement is needed. At question is whether or not a first round cornerback will take his spot this season (highly unlikely) or will he take over the number two spot currently held by Cortez Allen and/or William Gay.

While many of us assume a first round CB is indeed a replacement for Taylor, can we automatically discount the fact that the team is less than thrilled with Cortez Allen? 

Wide Receiver – If there is any position that the Steelers would more than likely take at pick 15 other than a corner, it would be a wide receiver. With Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery both in other uniforms, the experience at receiver amounts to Antonio Brown and Lance Moore and if you really push me to say so, Darrius Heyward-Bey. 

The selection of a wideout in the first round could be a clue that the team has little faith in Markus Wheaton, Derek Moye or Justin Brown. With the deep wide receiver class, you could probably apply this thinking to a round two selection as well.

Defensive line – Cam ‘Baby Godzilla’ Thomas has come over from San Diego and all expectations are that he will be a rotational player mostly at one of the end spots. Cameron Heyward and Steve McLendon are still expected to see a good deal of action and Brian Arnfelt and Hebron Fangupo could also push for spots as well. 

The problem is both lack of experience and real depth. With much speculation surrounding the future of Brett Keisel, what will the message be if the Steelers draft a defensive lineman in the first or second round? 

This depends of course on whether or not the Steelers go with a nose tackle or defensive end, but either way it could signal a concern that the team just doesn’t have faith in anyone on the defensive line other than Heyward. 

Inside Linebacker – We know what we get from Lawrence Timmons, but what about the guy next to him? Larry Foote will not be back. Vince Williams, who played way more than anyone expected him to at the season’s opening, is liked, but how much? Could newly signed Arthur Moats be a possibility? 

Moats played weak side backer in the Bills’ 4-3 but appears versatile enough to slide inside if necessary. Still, an early selection here will send the clear message that the Steelers aren’t happy with anyone they currently have as a long-term possibility.

As I said in the opening, every draft is a referendum of sorts for all 32 teams, but for a Steelers’ team that has holes like this one does and unproven players to boot, the significance grows rapidly.

Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard weekly on Trib-Live Radio talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.


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5 comments on “Steelers’ Draft Picks Will Be Referendum on Current Roster

  1. Dude… It’s pretty much a lock for the Steelers to take an OT. So much so that I’ll put money down on it, in the form of Reddit Gold. CB is a popular choice that has gained momentum thanks to the Mel Kipers of the world.

    Take the same thought process you just made, and look at our coaches. We fired our O-Line coach, after our line came together and played their best ball. Now this is where you’re going to shake your finger and say “but Dave, rumor has it that he wasn’t even calling the protection schemes, etc.” Yeah that rumor is a big load of BS. If that were true you’d see a mid-season firing, instead he was retained until the end of the year. So basically the conclusion can be drawn that our front office doesn’t have faith in our O-Line when considering their performance over the course of a season.

    Now this is where you say “BUTT DAAAAVVEEEE, we brought in supergenius Munchak!!!” Guess what… Munchak isn’t God. Munchak is a smart dude, who can get the most out of what he has, but when the most out of what you have is still barely even scratching the surface at average at the OT position…. it’s time to secure new and better talent.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying cut/trade Adams, Beachum, and Gilbert… I think they all provide valuable depth. And one out of the three is a serviceable RT, but none are capable of playing LT at the level that is required of them.

    Now this is where you say “BUUUUUUUUUUUUUT DAAAAAAAAAVEVVVVVVVVVE!!! Beachum played lights out amazeballs!!” No, he really didn’t. He performed adequately. His play was rewarded with far too much attention, because everyone thought we would be massacred due to our O-Line play and talent level. Beachum did a stellar job in providing the “lovable underdog” role, but even as a lovable underdog, he gave up some big sacks, and got beat many a-time by top notch pass rushers (like Suggs and Dumerville, both of which we play twice a freaking year)….

    In conclusion, draft a LT. Protect your QB until he retires, and he will bring in another Super Bowl. Draft a CB, and people will be excited, and we’ll get 4-5 more INT’s per year, and people will think we’re the coolest thing since the Seattle Seahawks Defense…. So what matters more to a fan? Being cool like Seattle, or winning a Super Bowl?

    • Good stuff Dave, thanks for writing. I don’t doubt for one minute that a tackle could be the pick. Munchak and Tomlin visited many pro days like A&M and Michigan where top talents are. Personally I don’t think it happens in round one but that doesn’t mean it won’t.

  2. As a life long Steelers fanatic I would be quite upset if we did not draft offensive tackle in the first round. I don’t think Beachum has the physical ability to be a consistent LT, and I don’t think Mike Adams has the mental ability. If we drafted any of the top OT prospects then Beachum could go back to what he is best at, and that is a fill-in guy, capable of playing any Offensive line position with some success. Also, none of the cornerbacks available will be able to make a big impact in their first year. The same is true for any linebacker prospect outside CJ Mosely. As far as WR goes, this draft is so deep that in rounds 2,3, and 4 we can add talented WR’s and defensive backs for the future. In the later rounds like 5-7 I would like to see a speed back like Deanthony Thomas from Oregon.

  3. Ok i hear you, take an OT. Here’s the obstacle these are the same guys who have been drafting o-lineman early for a few years now. But by most accounts we have one of the weakest o-lines in the league. And now you say thank you sir may i have another. I would think lets see what Munchak can do with what we have, To me our most glaring weakness is pass rushers, between Woodley and Jones they had a total of 9 sacks last year. But here’s the next problem it appears these guys are going to get the starting spots with no real back-ups or competition. This team is in transition and still doesn’t have an identity there are glaring weaknesses everywhere but QB. Drafting a CB who can and would play right away would be the best move for the current state of this team.

  4. Aaron Donald would be a nice choice for me him Heyward and McClendon would be scary with Kiesel and the other guys as rotational players we are deep enough at WR for someone to emerge and CB could be a pick for the 2nd and 4th rounds

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