Entering the draft, the broad consensus was that the two greatest areas of need for the Pittsburgh Steelers were cornerback and wide receiver.
They’ve flown in the face of convention through the first two days of the draft by exiting the first three rounds with an inside linebacker, a defensive end, and a scat back.
Admittedly, the best time to draft a receiver in terms of value may have been around where the Steelers would have had their natural third-round pick this year, had they not traded it away in last year’s draft to select Shamarko Thomas.
But when the compensatory portion of the third round finally rolled around, a full 51 selections after their second-round pick, the vast depth of top-end talent at wide receiver had largely dissipated, or so it seemed, especially after Donte Moncrief went off the board.
The most desirable cornerbacks, too, are now gone, with the rest largely expected to be projects in nature, which is familiar territory for the Steelers.
There were options at 97, however. For wide receiver, the Steelers could have taken the 6’4” Martavis Bryant, for example. At cornerback, a player such as the 6’1” Pierre Desir would have seemed to represent fair value.
The Steelers bypassed both, as well as every other cornerback and wide receiver, in favor of the deadly fast but slight Dri Archer.
In case you were wondering if he was going to be converted to slot receiver, he was discussed after the pick by running backs coach James Saxon, not wide receivers coach Richard Mann.
Now the Steelers must wait until the 18th pick of the fourth round before thinking about addressing those who catch the ball and those who intercept the ball, unless they elect to trade up. With a pair of late compensatory picks to fall back on, they do have some pieces to move around, if that should be their prerogative.
That is if they don’t find a tight end or outside linebacker that tickles their fancy first. Or maybe a kicker. Anything, seemingly, but the perimeter players of the offense and defense.
The Steelers entered this draft knowing that it was one rich in talent at wide receiver and cornerback. Instead of exploiting the depth to take one at the top of the heap, they’ve clearly elected to test that depth to see how long it lasts.
They may end up getting burned.
At wide receiver, behind young All-Pro Antonio Brown is the thoroughly unproven Markus Wheaton, and the aging and past his prime slot receiver, Lance Moore, as well as the bust with the dropsies, Darrius Heyward-Bey. Is this the receiving corps that you want to surround Ben Roethlisberger with in his 10th NFL season?
At cornerback, we find the once great but clearly at the end of the line Ike Taylor playing out his last season in what should be a less demanding role. Cortez Allen will get a second try at staying healthy and being a starter without getting benched. And neither are under contract beyond this season.
All of this seems to be pushing need in 2014 to desperation in 2015. While there are still four more rounds, in which the Steelers have six more selections to make, it seems that they are tempting fate in terms of adding to their roster, and potentially overestimating what they currently have.