Gil Brandt Has Steelers As One Of Five Teams With Tons At Stake In Upcoming Draft

The annual draft is certainly important every year for every team in the NFL, but on Wednesday, senior analyst Gil Brandt listed the Pittsburgh Steelers as one of five teams he believes the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft is especially important for.

Brandt writes:

Pittsburgh’s core players are clearly getting up there in age — and unfortunately for the Steelers, they don’t have a ton of young talent waiting in the wings. Aside from Le’Veon Bell, a second-round pick last year, Pittsburgh hasn’t drafted especially well recently, with top picks like Jarvis Jones (first round, 2013) and Cameron Heyward (first round, 2011) failing to provide needed production. The Steelers have become an old team beset with salary-cap issues. If they want to reverse their decline, they have to find prospects who will improve several areas of the roster, specifically on defense.

While Brandt is correct about Jones not producing during his rookie season last year, Heyward was one of the few bright spots on the Steelers defense in 2014 once he was inserted into the starting lineup. While there’s certainly room for improvement, Heyward led all Steelers defensive linemen with 59 total tackles of which seven went for a loss. He also registered five quarterback sacks and defensed seven passes.

As far as the Steelers becoming an old team, that narrative is getting tired. The team decided not to re-sign aging safety Ryan Clark during the offseason and instead replaced him with free agent safety Mike Mitchell. In addition, linebacker Larry Foote was released and defensive end Brett Keisel remains an unsigned free agent. In fact, only four potential starters, as we sit here in April, are 30 years old or older.

As far the Steelers being “beset with salary-cap issues”, they are in a lot better shape than they have been in several years and they have even managed to sign five unrestricted and three street free agents so far this offseason in an effort to improve their roster. When is the last time that many outside players were signed by Pittsburgh during an offseason? They will also get another $8 million in salary cap space come June went the release of linebacker LaMarr Woodley becomes official.

Yes, this is an important draft for the Steelers as it relates to future years as it is every year in Pittsburgh, but not so much for 2014 like Brandt would have you believe. The Steelers will be doing good to get more than 300 total snaps in 2014 out of any player they draft in May. If they draft one defensive player that winds up starting more than six games baring injuries, I will be shocked. It’s also still too early to judge the Steelers 2013 draft class, as those are the players that will really decide whether or not the team makes it back to the playoffs in 2014 after a two-year absence.

  • John Foltz

    Did you say steak?

  • 20Stoney

    He is not Jarvis Jones fan. I remember him saying he wasn’t worth the pick at draft time because of his lack of speed. Whether he’s right or wrong remains to be seen.
    But how in he hell can he complain about Cam Heyward??????????

  • Jason

    Core players all getting up there in age? Le’Veon,AB,Wheaton,the entire O-line,Heyward,Mac,Jones,Worilds,Timmons,Vince W,Cortez,Mitchell,Shamarko all young and a franchise qb still in his prime. These “analyst” never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Speaking of that I haven’t seen a “Roethlisberger wants traded” or a story about the terrible relationship between Ben and Haley lately. Pretty easy job being an analyst. Just repeat what you hear other analyst saying without doing any actual research to see if it’s accurate.

  • Paddy

    Gil Brandt is old, slow and done. His evaluation of Tom Savage is just totally wrong. So is this masterpiece of his

  • Paddy

    Happens with anyone connected with the “NFL Network”

  • Crazy Bone

    He should have said that the draft is important because the Steelers are not that talented anymore. That statement is correct. It is also correct that the Steelers have not drafted well of late. I don’t see the impact players anymore on defense and that is due to drafting. On offense you have Ben and Brown. Bell is a solid back but you can find solid backs all throughout the draft. I don’t expect much more from this group with this year’s draft either. Still a third place team to me.

  • cp72

    This article lost all credibility when he mentioned Heyward as a disappointment. If he was truly in tune with the team he should know Heyward is on the verge of being one of the best young 3-4 ends in the game.

  • NFL Network-The anti Steelers Channel. Bet he thinks Cleveland is on the rise, oh wait no QB.

  • steeltown

    Important draft… yes… aren’t they always?

  • 804Stiller

    This story lost me at Cam Heyward’s lack of production. Although, I agree this is a huge season and draft for the head coach and GM respectively, moreso due to “the standard” we have set. Unlike many, I think last year’s draft is going to turn out to be a good one other than the QB in the fourth.

  • srdan

    It depends on what you are calling the core. If it’s only players that have made the probowl on the team, then our core is old. If you actually a fan of hte team and see what the core is, I would disagree wtih him. The core on offense: AB, Bell and BB. On defense: Cam, Williams and Troy/Timmons.

  • Gil Brandt’s a smart guy, generally, but that statement is just ridiculous — and ridiculously wrong. Honestly, does he know anything about the Steelers or is he just going by outdated conventional “wisdom”?

    1) It’s way too early to judge Jarvis. Cam was amazing last year, truly a revelation. And if you go back a couple of years before that you get guys like Wallace and Brown and Pouncey and… that’s pretty good, no?

    2) The Steelers are an old team… where? In the secondary, with Ike and Troy? Okay, but they drafted Shamarko and signed Mitchell, and are undoubtedly targeting CBs in the upcoming draft. Where else? QB?

    3) The Steelers have managed the cap brilliantly, it seems to me.

    Anyway, just a stupid comment from someone who should know better.

  • And, yes, it’s pretty irritating that this is what passes for “analysis” at the national level, from someone working FOR THE NFL!

  • Kenneth Wilt

    First, I always find the “draft is important” this year mantra funny about Pittsburgh. Here is an organization which depends on the draft to survive….of course it’s important.

    Second, the age factor statements used to be true, but over the past few years it just means that they haven’t been paying attention to what is happening with this team. Let’s look at our age more in depth:

    We have 11 guys over the age of 30.

    3 of those players are specialists. I don’t think a punter being 30 or a K or LS being 32 effect their performance so much. In other words…age is not a major factor at this point.

    4 of the players are starters….Ben and Heath on offense. Troy and Ike on defense.

    That leaves 4 players….The backup QB, the 2nd string TE, the 4th S, and the current #3 WR.

    Honestly, I’m not worried about our age issue.

  • harding36

    Pretty silly stuff from Brandt. As others have said, this is not an old team at all. I’d also argue with the idea that we don’t have much young talent. I’d actually put the Steelers’ young core of Brown (25), Bell (21), DeCastro (24), Pouncey (24), Worilds (26), Jones (24), Heyward (24) and Thomas (23) up against most other teams in the league in terms of age, talent and upside. The problem with the Steelers is not age or lack of talent “waiting in the wings.” It’s depth. It’s being forced to play guys like Chris Carter and Stevenson Sylvester and Guy Wimper. The problem has not been poor picks at the top of the draft; it’s been getting nothing in the middle to back end.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    If you think that’s awful, think about our I and the rest of San Antonio Spurs fans feel for years. Media never write facts; they only write and expose great stories from their standpoint. Every year they address the Spurs “old” since 07′ and counted us out for every play-off but we always came back strong. For sake of this stalling off-season, go Spurs!

  • Jason

    Not a Spurs fan but they don’t get love because they do things the right way. Good team basketball with no “superstars” (even though Duncan and Parker actually are superstars.) I think I heard today that they won 62 games with no player averaging 30 minutes a game. That’s impressive. Okay enough basketball talk.

  • AndyR34

    You are correct that it’s all about what the definition of “core” is. For instance, I disagree slightly on your player selection…I think you cannot yet quite call Bell part of the “core” on offense, but you need to add Heath and quite possibly Foster…Pouncey maybe. On defense, I don’t think you can add Cam yet…here is a guy who only in his third year was able to beat out an “old man” (Kiesel) or “Ziggy the bust”, of whom some said a rookie UDFA should have been playing in his place. One year of production out of three years on the team counts as “failing to provide needed production”. For instance, Worilds was being labeled a bust because he couldn’t beat out two Pro-Bowlers. I think defense core at the moment is Ike, Troy and Timmons…most of the rest are too new in their positions. Williams is a 6th round draft choice who only started/played due to injury and who’s “production” was minimal. It is clear to me that Jason who claimed”…Jones,…,Vince W,Cortez,Mitchell,Shamarko” as core players needs a dictionary. BTW, I think you can be a fan of the team and not disagree with Gilbert totally. For instance, the Steelers are “beset with salary cap issues” as many on this site have proclaimed loudly about our “salary cap hell”. That ignores the fact that the FO usually negotiates their way thru it in fairly fine form…the “mistake” they made with K. Lewis notwithstanding.

  • AndyR34

    Nice analysis, Kenneth! I am worried somewhat about our age issue, but not our old age issue…more about that we are counting on a lot of young players that have only shown one year or less of “production”: Wheaton, Bell, Beachum, DeCastro, JJ, Cam, Williams, Mitchell, Worilds, Allen (who couldn’t keep his starting spot last year) and whomever is LDE

  • Johnny Loose

    Brandt’s analysis here is moronic. It’s hard for me to even listen to these analysts when they talk about the Steelers. It’s like they have no interest in actually learning about the team and giving real input. It’s easy to see that he is uninformed when it comes to the Steelers. I hope all of our 2014 opponents feel the same way and look past us, they will have another thing coming. Pittsburgh might not dominate this year, but they will compete. We could be dominant as early as 2015 though if the draft goes well.

  • Steven Vincent

    If they don’t draft at least 2 defensive starters ithat produce wel in this draft, it is a bust. Period. And if Jarvis Jones and Shamarko Thomas are not starting and being highly productive, last year was a bust too. The notion that it is OK for the Steelers to draft and not get full time starters out if it is ludicrous. Every other team expects that they will be getting players that can hit the field and contribute from Day 1. Why should it be any different for us. Please don;t tell me “the system” is too complicated and they need to “learn” for 3 years.

  • Steven Vincent

    True. This ‘sit on the bench, watch film study the book for 3 years and them MAYBE we’ll give you a few snaps approach has got to change.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I think the NBA media have graduated for players who used to be “superstars” to “megastars” like Lebron and Durant. They provide the hightlight reels and not just nobody averaged 30 minutes per game, all the starters missed combined of 75 games this season and only had one alley-loop and it was an accident haha.

    Reason why I don’t feel conflicted talking about Spurs because Steelers doesn’t have a basketball team and San Antonio only have one professional team- Spurs. I ain’t like one of those Lakers fan and Patriots fan. Extremely annoying.