“I feel the need, the need for speed,” Maverick from Top Gun.
That quote seems to be the mantra adopted for the Pittsburgh Steelers defense and how they want to approach their philosophy in the years to come.
If there is any doubt as to what the Steelers are trying to accomplish you need look no further than the past few drafts, which includes the most recent crop of draftees. Speed and athleticism are the words to best describe the Steelers picks. Starting with the 2014 number 1 pick, linebacker Ryan Shazier who did not participate in that year’s combine but ran a 4.37 in the 40 yard dash at the Ohio State Pro Day and was followed by the team first pick in 2015, also a linebacker Bud Dupree who ran a 4.56 which was the fastest at his position at the combine.
This year’s first and second round picks (Arties Burns and Sean Davis) were in the top 10 defensive backs with their 4.46 combine results. With their sixth round pick the team selected lightning quick linebacker Travis Feeney out of Washington. He will start and maybe even star on special teams this year, but his low weight (226 lbs) needs to increased to be able to project him as a starting outside linebacker in years to come.
The rest of the draft includes tackle Jerald Hawkins from LSU who played left and right tackle at college and may compete for a starting position as early as this year. With the first of their seventh round picks the Steelers selected wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers of Houston. Ayers is not as burner but he should be able to help the team with punt and kick returns allowing Antionio Brown to just focus on his wide receiving duties. The second pick of the seventh round is inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich of Temple. He will be a spark of special teams and in a few year’s maybe a dominate middle linebacker in the 3-4.
Overall the Steelers draft needs to produce this year. The team needs Artie Burns and Sean Davis to start and the rest of the picks can help where possible, and if that doesn’t help look for the Steelers to fall back.
Next year, a center needs to be taken because Maurkice Pouncey is just to injury prone and costly and a quarterback for the future has to be taken.