Last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to get considerable playing time out of their top two draft picks as linebacker Jarvis Jones played 646 defensive snaps while running back Le’Veon Bell played 691. With the 2014 NFL Draft now right around the corner, lets have a look at where top draft picks could potentially see serious playing time this season.
Wide Receiver – The Steelers are set with Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Lance Moore as their top three wide receivers, but there is room for a top draft pick to see considerable playing time right away inside the red zone. As I noted last week, this is a real area of concern right now for the Steelers and I could see a rookie coming in and catching 25-30 passes in 2014.
Tight End – Heath Miller isn’t getting any younger and could use some snaps off during the second half of the season to hopefully have him fresh for the playoffs. Matt Spaeth is mainly blocking tight end, so a pass catching tight end could certainly contribute around 200 snaps or so.
Tackle – While it’s unlikely to happen, if the Steelers were to land one of the top three tackles in the first round, that player could instantly push for a starting job.
Inside Linebacker – Vince Williams appears set to start the season alongside Lawrence Timmons, but he has yet to show that he can stay on the field for all three downs. A rookie inside linebacker such as C.J. Mosley or Ryan Shazier might be able to carve out a third-down nickel role very quickly if needed.