2017 Offseason Questions: What Offensive Pick Could You Not Pass Up?

The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.

And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Which if any offensive players in this draft would you not be able to pass on if available in the first round?

While the Steelers’ primary needs, by the opinion of the majority, rest firmly on the defensive side of the ball—and generally speaking this is regarded as a quality draft for the team’s specific defensive needs, namely pass rushers and coverage players—there are still some holes on the offensive side of the ball, and corresponding talent in the draft.

It seems virtually a foregone conclusion that Pittsburgh is going to draft either an outside linebacker, a cornerback, or a coverage safety in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft just over a week away—but what if that is not what happens, based on the way that the draft breaks?

For one thing, it’s already looking as though the team won’t have a definitive answer on Martavis Bryant by draft time, which could minutely skew how they view the wide receiver position relative to their draft arsenal. And if they decide to trade out of the second round for additional picks, as Alex Kozora suggested they could, that would provide additional fuel to supplement their defensive needs.

So the question is, should they unexpectedly fall to the Steelers all the way at the 30th overall spot, what offensive players, at any position, would you be unable to pass up on over any defensive player that will realistically be on the board?

There are some, though not many, who are actually looking at a quarterback here. Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson, or Patrick Mahomes: they’re there. Do you take one of them? What about wide receivers? Mike Williams falls. John Ross, with 4.22 speed, is there. Do you bite?

Tight end might be the biggest vulnerability, and for some reason OJ Howard or David Njoku don’t get taken in the first 29 picks. They have Le’Veon Bell, but he’s on a franchise tag, and Leonard Fournette has fallen somehow. Yea or nay?

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Paddy

    So many question marks with current players, Green, Bryant & Bell to start with. It would be hard to pass on Mike Williams or OJ Howard

  • steelburg

    I have to go with anyone if those tight ends. If either Howard or Njoku are there I thinking they should seriously consider it. My counter to not taking one if those guys is if there are still top defensive backs left they should pass.

  • falconsaftey43

    I couldnt pass on Mahomes, Howard, Njoku, Davis, Ross.

  • mokhkw

    None of them. This is a draft strong in D but definitely below par for Offense apart from the TE group. It will be funny watching the same teams make the same bad decisions by reaching for players so they can sell tickets though.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    I could pass on all of them and I wouldn’t even blink in doing so. As our offense stands now it is underperforming, it isn’t under staffed.

    Best RB in the NFL, top 5 QB in the NFL, Top 3 WR (with Bryant 2 top 10 WR’s), top 5 OL, and a solid TE group. There is not another team in the NFL with a resume like this. I want to do a little breakdown on why I wouldn’t take any of them. The overall theme being, what is necessary to keep the offense perfoming at a good enough level to be a SB contender.

    RB – I just don’t see first round value at the position, period. Even if you are talking about a game changing RB, it has to be a team need. The first thing is, we already have a game changing RB in Le’veon Bell. Even if we didn’t have him, we have a game changing WR and QB along with a solid OL. So even without Bell, you still only need a solid RB to keep the offense performing at a high level. The only time I would want to spend a first round pick on an RB like that would be if Ben is gone and we are back to having a rookie QB or a mediocre veteran. At that point, you need to give them that safety blanket.

    WR – Again, I am going to need someone to show me the need. I am fairly confident Bryant is back and at that point WR is 2nd only to OL in the position we need least. But let’s assume Bryant isn’t back. We were still good enough to make it to the AFC championship game and our offense wasn’t what cost us. So we get a first round receiver and our offense scores 40 every game. We get to the AFC championship to face the Patriots and lose 45-40 because our defense can’t get to the QB or cover anyone.

    TE – This is the one that I find most frustrating because I think people have unrealistic expectations. Maybe it is just me, but (at least here on the Depot) the idea seems to be that if our TE isn’t as good as Rob Gronkowski they simply aren’t good enough. I got news for you, Heath Miller was no Rob Gronkowski and he was still a great and very capable TE. People here want every single position on offense to hold the title of best in the NFL and that is unrealistic. You only NEED a Gronk when your receiver group doesn’t have AB’s and Martavis Bryants. Spending first round value on a 3rd or 4th target sounds completely stupid to me.

    QB – The most scoffed at here on the Depot and in my opinion, the only one I would actually be okay with drafting in the first if the right guy was there. I am not saying that right guy is available in this draft and it seems a lot of evaluators don’t either, but if you want to talk about the one position on offense that you could actually argue as a need given Bens age, it is QB. Most important piece on any team and thus the most value.

    So yeah, those are my thoughts on the whole idea. A lot of fans want to form the next Greatest Show on Turf at the expense of our defense and I am not buying it. Lets form the Greatest Show on Turf to help beat the Pats. Oh wait, the Pats beat the Greatest Show on Turf already…….

  • steelersfan

    Howard, Njoku, Williams

  • Petherson Silveira

    Mitchell Trubisky: Take.
    Deshaun Watson: Pass.
    Patrick Mahomes: Maybe.

    Mike Williams: Pass.
    John Ross: Pass.

    OJ Howard: Take.
    David Njoku: Maybe

    Leonard Fournette: Take.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    O.J. Howard and Mike Williams are the easy answers here. Both are big time talents that offer something the Steelers don’t currently have on the roster. They are also both expected to produce early. Most importantly, they would improve the red offense. For the sake of the exercise, an interesting guy might be Dalvin Cook. Nobody (myself included) expects him to fall, but let’s say his off the field issues drag him down. With Bell on a one year franchise tag, not sure if I could pass him up if he was there.

  • Bruce

    With the Steelers current offense there is no offensive player I would take over the best available defensive player in this draft, there are TE and WR prospects that I would feel comfortable with in later rounds

  • Trevor

    McCaffrey intrigues me a lot. Similar versatility to Bell so there’d be little need to change play calling and packages. He can flex to the slot and return kicks. Sign me up.

  • Big Joe

    Corey Davis in 1st or Zay Jones in 2nd

  • Jeff McNeill


  • Terrible Towlie


  • RickM

    I was going to say O.J. Howard. But if he’s dropped that far, there would have to be a hole or last-minute reason. So I pass and go the far-more-necessary D.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Mahomes is very tempting but that would be all I would consider for me in the 1st.

  • falconsaftey43

    Just some counter points…the offense only managed to score 18 vs KC and 17 vs NE, they were equally to blame for the struggles against NE.

    I’m not asking the TE group to be the best in the league, but right now (with out Green, which seems a safe bet) the group is one of the worst in the league. Jesse James was 59th of 67 TEs in yards per target. He catches 4-5 yard passes, gets zero YAC and drops too many balls. Oh yeah, he’s a below average blocker. We saw how much better the offense was with a guy like Green.

    The offense was good enough without Bryant/Green/Coates because they just ran the ball the hole time with Bell, which got him injured so he couldn’t play vs the Pats and then they were sunk.

    All that said, I’d prefer a defensive player in the 1st and 2nd, but to suggest the offense has no need of more talent seems a little too optimistic.

  • falconsaftey43

    Haha, this made me laugh so much. Great prospect drops in a dream scenario…must be something wrong with him. I’d probably be thinking the same thing if it actually happened!

  • Burgh Ball


  • Mark

    Ross, Williams only if MB doesn’t come off suspension. A rookie WR or TE will not help as much as rookie safety, CB, or LB that can cover. Ben will not trust them anyway or go to them in the clutch. His target’s will always be AB and LeVeon sprinkled in with others. So why waste a pick on a talent that will not get used.

  • Matt Correll

    I think that OJ Howard would be the only player I would take. The TE class is deep– but I really see him as being a very special player. The top WRs look good, but not great. I think if we are really that concerned with WR there is plenty of value in the 2-5 rounds to add (ie. Godwin, Zay Jones, Kupp, Dupre, etc.). I think the RB class is also very deep, and would be happy with a guy like Mack, Conner, Gallman, Hunt to backup Bell. I’m really not sold on any of the QBs, so even though I do think it is a position the Steelers need to be preparing for a transition at, I just don’t think any of these guys are the long term solution. Drafting any of them would just be drafting a back up/ stop gap guy in my opinion.

  • Rocksolid20

    And I add Delvin Cook to the must take if available .

  • Terrible Towlie

    Curtis Samuel is a lot like McCaffrey…..a RB who also plays WR/KR/PR
    runs a 4.3 and has been getting zero press….maybe we can steal him with extra 3rd

  • Dennis Nevinsky

    I would take Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson, Leonard Fournette, and OJ Howard.

  • Chenz33

    It would depend on what Defensive players were also available. I mean if Hassan Reddick also slipped, I couldn’t take any Offensive player over him. I guess I’d consider OJ Howard and Mitchell Trubisky in many scenarios. That’s probably all. Definitely no WR or RB.

  • Craig M

    I think our lack of offense last year was more so our OCs weakness in game strategy than player personnel. So an early round QB, w/ sights towards the future, is not really worth investing a pick. A TE might fit the bill and a RB may not be used properly enough to select over more glaring needs in the DB dept. IMO

  • Phil Brenneman II

    To your first point points about the offense on the whole.

    1. I have already said the offense under performs. However, I don’t think that means they are under staffed. I think the talent is there, they just haven’t clicked for whatever reason. Particularly on the road this year. Whether it is play calling, injury, or Ben having a slightly down year.

    2. When it comes to the Pats game the offense was most definitely not as much at fault as the defense. If you believe that you were watching a completely different game than the rest of us.

    As for TE, I think you are being a bit too hard on the group. The first thing is, yards per target isn’t an end all be all stat. Heath Miller wasn’t a big YAC guy either. As I pointed out before and continue to point out you don’t need a Gronk level TE when you have AB’s, Bryants, and Bells taking most of the offense anyway. You need a guy who is smart enough to find soft spots and get you an occasional first down. That is James. Again, if we lose some of the other big pieces I could see putting more focus on the TE position but for now it would just be an unnecessary luxury. To your point about drops, James isn’t significantly worse than other guys around the league. He had a drop rate of 6.7%. Eric Ebron was 7.7%, Travis Kelce was 5.1%, Gary Barnidge was 4.9%, C.J. Fiedorowicz was 5.6%, Dwayne Allen was 5.8%, Austin Hooper was 7.4% etc….James also gives Ben a nice big redzone target, they just don’t utilize him enough. Instead we thrown corner routes to Cobi Hamilton.

    As to your point about running the whole time the numbers don’t support your argument. It was about 60-40 in favor of passing in 2016.

    I will continue to stand by my points. This offense could add 0 new players and as long as they upgrade the defense we are going to be a favorite for the SB. Heck, we already are and our defense is a big liability.

  • D.j. Reynolds

    Good list, but I’d take Watson rather than pass. Maybe Williams too (depending on who else is available). I’d trade down on Mahomes as someone will want to get up there for him. I admit I am higher on Watson than most Steelers fans, but I truly believe he has that Joe Montana-like “it” factor more so than any qb that has come out in years. I know that doesn’t mean he will be Montana in the pros, but my gut/eyes tell me he will be really good.

  • falconsaftey43

    We’ll just have to disagree that the offense under performed down the stretch. I think the offense did as well as could be expected with Hamilton/Ayers/DHB/broken Coates trying to be the #2 WR.

    Jesse James, his drop rate isn’t terrible, but it’s too high when he’s not making big plays to compensate. Why I like yards/target. To give a reference point, Heath Miller’s last year (by far his worst statistically) he averaged 6.60 yards per target which would have ranked 42nd this year. Jesse James averaged 5.63 for 58th. that’s a big difference, a full yard worse than Miller’s worst year. Sorry, he’s just such a non-factor. He’s a guy that is ok at picking up a few yards because he’s getting starter snaps. I’m not asking for Gronk level performance, but at least old Heath level would be a significant improvement.

    And we ran the ball a ton down the stretch. For Giants, Bills, Bengals, Ravens, Dolphins, KC games down the stretch they ran in 192 times and threw 186. That’s 50.8% run, which is really high in today’s league. Forced to go heavy pass vs. the Pats because they fell behind and Bell was hurt.

  • Kevin Reich

    Williams, Fournette, Howard. Maybe Ross.

  • Petherson Silveira

    I do like Watson, he is a very good football player, but not at point to us give “this year” 1rst round pick that we can use on defense.
    Williams, exactaly, totally depends on who is available on the defense side or even on offense.

  • Petherson Silveira

    He has a very good value, but like Watson, we can not afford “this year” first round pick with him, coz the pressing needs on defense.

  • D.j. Reynolds

    I understand and acknowledge that most likely won’t agree with me on Watson, but I would run to the podium with his name if he were still available, especially with the defensive depth in this draft.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Williams and Howard for sure. There are others, although I don’t think QB is a position I would include.

    I have run a bunch of mocks on multiple sites and this is what I think happens. We either take OLB in the first, or we are looking at taking guys late like in the 5th or 6th. There just aren’t a lot of options in the middle rounds who are better players than at other positions. We either go top 5 or 6 or we wait till late.

  • Kevin Reich

    Joe Mixon is better than Cook. He did the same thing just not on video. I wouldn’t draft either.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    adam shaheen.

  • Jon Crissinger

    For me, it’s OJ Howard, Corey Davis and Patrick Mahomes. Njoku would be pretty close.

    Corey Davis is on a Terrell Owens talent level. OJ Howard I equate with Greg Olsen. Mahomes… I’m not really sure who I’d compare him too, but I love the arm talent and gunslinger mentality.

  • Jon Crissinger

    Which is crazy to me. He’s basically Percy Harvin, but without the concussions and less wide receiver polish.

  • Shane Mitchell

    John Ross, I cant think of a better fit for Ben at WR and what he offers after the catch, its like the guy was tailor made to take the offense to the elite level we need to be at to win a superbowl, adding him makes rebuilding the defense an after thought because we could win the superbowl just adding him to the offense this season and nothing else. AB, Martavis and Ross in the slot, Bell at RB not sure how anyone could defend it.

  • Riverstko

    QB Patrick Mahomes! If he’s still there at 30 I would take him.

  • Christopher Poknis

    Totally want defense. But for conversation, I’d say Mike Williams, O.J. Howard, and Deshaun Watson. In that order.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Honestly, I could pass on ANY Offensive guy if the right Defensive guy was in front of him. So that’s the correct answer. But who would make it the toughest for me to pass on? I think there are 3 names at each of the skill positions who would make me contemplate heavily…

    Christian McCaffrey: One of my draft crushes. And who I consider the best all-around RB in this really good RB class. We could play him at Slot WR. He can return kicks. And when he came in for Bell, we’d hardly miss a beat in at least the play-making department.

    OJ Howard: Has the size, speed, hands, and strength, to dominate the position. Is he passionate enough? Well, not every has to be rah-rah, but it’s a question. But as far as providing matchup nightmares and being a capable blocker at TE, Howard is the package.

    Corey Davis: Flying awesomely and appropriately under the radar, after his relatively minor injury has kept him out of workouts. To me, the best WR prospect in this class by far. Insane college production as the “all-time leader in major college football in receiving yards (5,285).” Has every attribute. I adore this kid. THIS is the one who would make me think the hardest. Giving this kid to Big Ben may be the equivalent of cheating.

  • Darth Blount 47

    My “like” rolls in for Davis and Howard. 2 out of the 3 I mentioned as well.

  • Darth Blount 47

    In the 1st? That’s a bold move, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for him.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    Shaheen would eliminate need for stress about Bryant, Coates, and green.

  • LucasY59

    there are a couple for me, In the 1st rd I really dont want an offensive player (actually I dont want one in the top 3 rds) but in the 1st there are a few elite type guys that would be hard to pass on *only reason to pass would be a equally Elite defensive player

    1. John Ross: not because I am uncertain of Martavis, but because of what they could do if they have both Ross and Bryant, the opposing Secondary would be terrified of both of those deep threats, some will knock Ross because of his size (AB proves size doesnt always matter) but the only concern I would have is his injury history, and even that is not enough to say his is too risky, the potential game changer he is, would be worth the risk (health risks apply to ANY player, because anyone can get hurt at any time) plus Ross would add something to the kick return game so the trio of AB, Ross and MB is too good to pass up

    2. OJ Howard: rare to find a TE these days that can catch and block, he is a great athlete, but I really doubt he will be available *I am not as concerned as others about Green, but regardless of his health/availability I would take OJ

  • johnhoien

    Corey Davis WR

  • Beeze

    Yes to Davis, Howard, McCaffrey; maybe to Cook, Mahomes, Trubisky, Williams, Njoku, Fournette and a big fat no for the rest of them.

  • Jay Brenner

    I’m with you brother. Love this kid .

  • The Truth

    It depends on round. IMO, there is no offensive player worth taking in the 1st round.