The Pittsburgh Steelers opted not to play into the hands of the strengths of this draft class when they selected inside linebacker Ryan Shazier in the first round with the 15th overall pick, when many assumed that they would choose a cornerback or a wide receiver instead.
Perhaps this was a wise decision, given the comparative paucity of depth for capable inside linebackers after the top of the crop. That also helps explain why the Baltimore Ravens jumped on the opportunity to take C.J. Mosley a couple spots after the Steelers got their inside linebacker.
Shazier was obviously a prime target, and they took him exactly when they needed to, given that the Dallas Cowboys were allegedly poised to select him one spot later before the Steelers drafted him.
General manager Kevin Colbert has spoken on a number of occasions during this offseason about the immense depth to be found at both the wide receiver and cornerback positions in what he described as the deepest draft he’s seen on the job.
With that in mind, it made sense to take the linebacker early, given that the quality of available targets declines far more steeply after the first few candidates than can be said for either cornerback or wide receiver.
But now that leaves those two positions as focal points for day two of the draft, featuring the second and third rounds.
The Steelers should ideally come away with one player from each position at the end of the day, though if a defensive lineman is mixed in there, it would be more than understandable.
Still, for many, the focus on the Steelers’ second day strategy will be on those who catch the ball and those whose job it is to intercept the ball.
The Steelers lost two of their top three wide receivers from last season, and their top cornerback, Ike Taylor, is in what will likely be his final season in the league. Not to mention Cortez Allen for the time being is also only under contract for this season.
With only five wide receivers taken in the first round, there’s an abundance of interesting talent on the menu for today, including Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Jordan Matthews, Davante Adams, Jarvis Landry, Cody Latimer, and Allen Robinson. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if one of these pass catchers throw on a Steelers jersey in the near future.
At cornerback, the cream of the crop has already been selected in the first round. But the Steelers aren’t exactly known for relying on premium pedigrees for their cornerbacks. The top three players at the position right now have come in the fourth and fifth rounds.
The Steelers clearly loved Shazier, and that’s of course why they chose him above all other reasons. Because of the depth available at other positions of need, however, it made sense for them to wait, even if so many were coveting a first-round cornerback.