Several injuries prevented the Steelers’ advance to Super Bowl 50. Ben Roethlisberger missed a significant period time. After he had returned from a suspension, Le’Veon Bell suffered a season-ending MCL tear. I could continue.
Might the Steelers have advanced to the big game? I think so. Nevertheless, the Steel City has its sights set on another title. Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert realize their small window; they are banking on three or four more years of Big Ben.
What do the Steelers need to do to return and climb the “stairway to seven”? With a few notable exceptions, including running back DeAngelo Williams and tight end Ladarius Green, the Steelers have drafted and developed their roster.
The Steelers have several positions of need. Colbert and his staff must first address the secondary. While the pass rush flourished and brought pressure at critical junctures, several players exposed the secondary. The Steelers could spend their first-round pick on one of many quality cornerbacks or safeties.
After a few seasons, the offensive line, an obvious weakness, developed into a great strength.
The Steelers draft and coach their wide receivers. Richard Mann and Todd Haley have done a phenomenal job identifying “special” players, coaching them into contributors, and letting them loose for Big Ben. An additional pass catcher would make the offense even scarier.
With regard to the front seven, the Steelers can and should add strength to strength. A scary group of linemen and linebackers could use more playmakers. Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons have emerged as a formidable duo on the inside. Bud Dupree showed promise his rookie year with four sacks and will look to get to the QB more in 2016.
Picking at #25 in the first round Pittsburgh could likely go for the best available player instead of what they need. When you pick so late in the draft it’s hard to predict who will be available. Florida safety Keanu Neal is projected to be a late first/early second round pick and would be a great addition to the Steelers’ secondary if he is the pick. Texas A&M OT Germain Ifedi is another guy who is projected to go late in the first round or early in the second. He could be plugged in and start on week one.
The good news for Pittsburgh is that are going to contend for the AFC North title again but the bad news is picking so late in the draft may make picking playmakers a bit tricky.