Steelers 2014 Draft Needs – Offense
The 2014 NFL Draft is a good four months away right now, but before we begin posting our player draft profiles, it’s important to go over the needs for the Pittsburgh Steelers heading into the offseason. We will start off first with a look at the needs on the offensive side of the football and rank them as far as priority goes.
Wide Receiver – Drafting a wide receiver in the top three rounds of the draft will become a must assuming unrestricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders leaves via free agency. Outside of Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton, the Steelers will have no experienced depth on the roster until hopefully Jerricho Cotchery is re-signed. While several might point to Derek Moye and Justin Brown as adequate depth with good upside, I think otherwise and believe that this team could really use a big-bodied, game-changing receiver.
Tight End – Unlike in 2013, tight ends Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth should both be ready to start the 2014 season baring a training camp injury. While both are the now, the Steelers could probably stand to use a draft pick on a tight end that could potentially succeed Miller, who could receive a small extension during the offseason. David Paulson is currently under contract, but after beginning the 2013 season as the starter due to both Miller and Spaeth being sidelined, he played a total of 14 snaps on offense in the second half of the season as even Michael Palmer was used more. In other words, he is a long-shot to stick around. Miller still has some tread left on his tires, however, so addressing this position might have to wait until the middle rounds.
Running Back – While it certainly shouldn’t be considered a high priority, at some point the Steelers might want to spend a mid to later round draft pick this go around on a running back that can could possibly serve as a change a pace back to Le’Veon Bell. There is no guarantee that unrestricted free agents Jonathan Dwyer, LaRod Stephens-Howling or Felix Jones will be brought back during the offseason and for now, Alvester Alexander is the only other running back under contract for the 2014 outside of Bell. A late-round back with the ability to contribute on special teams as either a punt or kick returner would be nice, but not a necessity.
Offensive Line – The emergence of Kelvin Beachum as the Steelers starting left tackle in 2013 was a bit surprising and he played remarkably well in the second half of the season. With center Maurkice Pouncey set to return in 2014 from his knee injury and the rest of the starting offensive line presumably set in stone, I have my doubts that a draft pick will even be spent on addressing the offensive line. Instead, the team is likely to fill in their interior depth holes by re-signing a few of their own low-priced unrestricted free agents such as Cody Wallace, Fernando Velasco and perhaps even tackle/guard Guy Whimper. Remember, Nik Embernate also could figure into the 2014 picture as far as depth goes as well, so if the Steelers do indeed spend a draft pick on another offensive lineman, it more than likely would come very late in the draft.