Like many teams this year, the Steelers’ needs are many. Here’s our take on how to start plugging the holes.
The Steelers have big needs. With the not-so-pretty defections of standout receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell already this year, the Black and Gold is looking Lack and Old. Add to this their shell of a once-vaunted Blitzburgh defense and an aging quarterback on the cusp of his decline, one need not be a fortune teller to know that the word for the day is rebuild.
Fortunately, the NFL Draft is where the magic happens. This year’s draft will be a defining moment in Steelers history.
1. A.J. Brown (6-foot-1, 230 pounds), Wide Receiver, Mississippi Rebels
Antonio Brown‘s departure leaves some big shoes to fill. A.J. Brown just might be able to do it. The elusive receiver has the speed and size to separate from defenders with a combination of brawn and flight-footedness.
The biggest concern with Brown is his propensity to drop passes when his focus wanes.
2. Nasir Adderley (6-feet, 206 pounds), Safety, Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens
With experience as both a safety and a cornerback, Adderley is the epitome of explosiveness. Popping off the snap quickly, the speedster backpedals with ease and is fluid in his change of directions while a play unfolds. Moreover, Adderley hits low, wraps the legs and finishes a tackle with textbook perfection.
Hopefully, Adderley can learn from the Steelers’ veterans to become better at reading and responding to the play on the field, as he has shown inconsistencies at Deleware.
3. Bobby Okereke (6-foot-1, 239 pounds), Linebacker, Stanford Cardinals
A fireplug of a linebacker, Okereke has the football knowledge and skill to be a game-changer. He consistently diagnoses a play and can run down even the speediest of athletes. Combine this with his experience and expertise on special teams and Okereke is a no-brainer for the Steelers.
Okereke’s propensity to endure the majority of the impact with runners hitting the hole significantly raises his likelihood of sustaining a serious injury during the season.
4. Ben Banogu (6-foot-3, 250 pounds), EDGE, TCU Horned Frogs
Banogu’s agility coupled with his speed stops scrambling quarterbacks in their tracks. He is often more aware of the pocket depth than the opposing quarterback. He can also shrug off tight end blocks easily and almost always gets his man.
Unfortunately, Banogu’s lack of balance and poor positioning has plagued his college career with multiple missed tackles.
5. Isaiah Prince (6-foot-6, 305 pounds) Offensive Tackle, Ohio State Buckeyes
A heavy-handed right-left punch combo by the massive tackle opens the door for many running backs. He also provides his backfield a substantial amount of space as a lead blocker and on screens.
Prince’s biggest pitfall is the motion he wastes when popping off of the snap and getting into block fit.
6. Benny Snell (5-foot-10, 224 pounds), Running Back, Kentucky Wildcats
Snell has an amazing ability to quickly find and decide on his lane, but also the patience to wait on his blocks. He seems to sniff out the goal line; he amassed 48 touchdowns in just three years with the Wildcats.
Snell has rather heavy feet in tight spaces and lacks the breakaway speed which makes good running backs great.
7. Keenan Brown (6-foot-2, 250 pounds), Tight End, Texas State Bobcats
A wide receiver in high school, Brown still plays like it, showing blazing speed which leaves most linebackers in the dust. Clutch with the ball in traffic, he is trouble for the opposing defense once the ball is in his hands.
Brown struggles as a blocker, seeming to lack both the toughness and technique required for his position.
The Steelers, like many teams, have more needs to fill than they possibly can this year. However, the upcoming draft will get them well on their way. Next year, quarterback will be their most pressing need, but they can address that via the draft or free agency. Luckily, for the Black and Gold, Big Ben still has a few good years in him.