The Steelers have many needs this offseason, but none more urgent than the outside linebacker spot and the cornerback position.
The draft will ultimately be decided by how free agency fares, so I’ll take a look at the latter first to see how the former might play out.
If the Steelers manage to ink Jason Worilds to a fair long term contract, I expect them to be a bit more conservative on looking at the pass rush in this year’s crop.
This is assuming Arthur Moats is resigned and James Harrison retires/leaves.
One player I really like and would come to the team at a good price would be Eagles LB Brandon Graham. Brandon is 6 ft 2 in., 265 lbs. and had a decent year with the Eagles in 2014 as he recorded 5.5 sacks, and was a good special teams contributer.
I see him pairing up real nice alongside Worilds to create much better pressure on the outside. He is still a young man at age 26, and seems to be getting better as he gains more experience.
If they don’t sign Worilds, I still see them signing Graham or Jabaal Sheard from Cleveland. Sheard (6 ft 3in., 264 lbs., 25 years old) would come at a heftier price, however. Then, the team may have to chase a lower tier linebacker that will provide competition for Jarvis Jones and the first round pick outside linebacker that I would fully expect them to draft. Cornerback would take a backseat until the second round this time.
Now, if Worilds stays, and either Graham, Sheard or whoever else ends up signing, then due to the lack of quality corners and an abundance of good pass rushers, I see the Steelers taking a cornerback in the first round and possibly waiting until the third to take an outside linebacker.
I don’t see many free agent cornerbacks that would come in at a decent price and contribute immediately. Obviously, Byron Maxwell and Brandon Flowers are out of their price range, so I see no scenario in which they come to Pittsburgh.
One of the corners that I would like to see in the black and gold who would come at a hefty, but possible price would be CB Chris Culliver from the 49ers. He performed admirably, recording 4 interceptions this past year. He is of decent size, being 6 feet and weighing 199 lbs.
Regardless of the OLB situation in the event of a Culliver signing, you bet the first round pick would be OLB because of the amount of money that would go to Chris. There wouldn’t be enough cap space left to sign a decent linebacker in that case.
It’s obvious the Steelers have their work cut out for them. We’ll see what road the team ultimately takes in the upcoming weeks.
Stats courtesy of rotoworld.com, NFL.com,