When most people think the ‘Pittsburgh Steelers,’ they usually think about the black and gold, the logo on one side of the helmet and toughness. Much of that toughness starts with the defense which for 40 years has been one of the most consistently good ones in the NFL.
With that said, the Steelers cannot afford to use their 17th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft in April on a defensive player and I can point out a few reasons why.
First, the defense has seen the bulk of attention salary-wise in recent years. The defense was the 4th highest paid unit in the NFL last year while the offense ranked 29th. In terms of dollar amounts, the defense earned roughly $20 million dollars more than the offense. My point? It’s time to ‘invest’ in the offense.
Secondly, Ben Roethlisberger begins his tenth season in Pittsburgh and it’s high time this team get him some ample weapons to use while he is still in his prime years. Mike Wallace is gone and so too may be Emmanuel Sanders. I credit the organization for investing in selections to shore up the offensive line in front of Roethlisberger, but now the pieces need to be selected that can allow Roethlisberger and the offense to flourish before it’s too late.
Lastly, there is a much greater chance that a defensive player selected with the 17th pick with see the field in 2013 far less than an offensive player. This is nothing new. This has been fairly typically under Dick LeBeau as he has never been one to trust rookies or even second and third year guys for that matter. Obviously there are some exceptions to this ‘rule,’ but by and large LeBeau just doesn’t play rookies that much.
Obviously much of what the Steelers do with the 17th pick will be almost entirely on what happens with the 16 picks ahead of them. With that said, I still believe players like Tavon Austin, Keenan Allen and Terrance Williams will be available.
As I wrote yesterday, the current line-up the Steelers could put on the field will not strike fear into any defense. They must address this and the pick cannot be on the sidelines ‘learning’ for a year. The Steelers need a high-quality, game-changing guy sooner rather than later.
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.