Needs: The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a quiet offseason thus far, remaining relatively inactive in free agency. They’ll add a handful of players in the draft, though, which should help fill out the roster with playmakers – especially on the defensive side of the ball.
A few positions of need for the Steelers include edge rusher, cornerback, safety and tight end.
Picks: First round (30), second round (62), third round (94, 105), fourth round (135), fifth round (173), sixth round (213), seventh round (248).
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Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
Williams doesn’t come without significant baggage, but the talent is absolutely there. Despite playing limited snaps at Alabama, Williams can really get after the quarterback off the edge, which is something the Steelers desperately need. He fits perfectly as an outside linebacker in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 scheme, though he does need to do some refining of his game on the field.
He needs to play with better strength to complement his burst off the line of scrimmage, particularly in the NFL where tackles are far bigger and more athletic. Off the field, he needs to clean up his act and ensure that failed drug tests won’t become a regular occurrence like they were for Randy Gregory.
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Takk McKinley, OLB, UCLA
McKinley is a premier athlete, running a 4.59 40-yard dash at the Combine. His burst off the line is evident on every snap, showing good explosiveness as an edge rusher. Unfortunately, there are injury concerns as he just underwent surgery after the Combine and will be sidelined for four to six months.
That shouldn’t prevent a team like the Steelers, who are an ideal fit for his skill set, from taking him in Round 1. He has the potential to be a double-digit sack guy in the right situation, which might cause him to go earlier than the Steelers’ first-round pick.
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Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama
The Steelers lack a real threat at tight end despite having Ladarius Green. He hasn’t panned out since coming over from San Diego, and the Steelers can’t have too much patience with him going forward.
Everett is a name to watch in an extremely deep tight end class, boasting good athleticism and the desire to block along the line of scrimmage. He’s not a polished tight end by any means, but the traits and athleticism are there.
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Obi Melifonwu, DB, UConn
Melifonwu is an intriguing prospect in the fact that he’s one of the best athletes of the past decade, but it’s unclear exactly how he fits in today’s NFL. For most teams, he’ll be a strong safety. For others, he could play free safety. And for teams like the Seahawks, Chiefs and possibly even the Steelers, he might be looked at as a cornerback.
He has the size and speed to lock down opposing receivers, but his footwork isn’t great, and there’s sometimes a lack of urgency when attempting tackles. His inconsistency will drive coaches mad because the potential is there, he just needs to realize it.
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Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
Jones is a first-round talent who will slip to the second or third round due to an Achilles injury suffered on the last drill of his pro day. He’d be one of the top targets for the Steelers in the first round if not for the injury, but now they could potentially get him one round later at the expense of him missing some time this offseason.
Jones has the makeup of a No. 1 cornerback despite having a somewhat thin frame, having great speed and instincts as a boundary defender. He’d be a good value pick for Pittsburgh in the second round, especially if he’s able to contribute as a rookie.
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James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
The Steelers obviously have one stud running back in Le’Veon Bell, but he’s far from reliable. He’s missed 14 games the last two seasons, forcing the Steelers to use their backup more often than they’d like. Conner doesn’t have elite athleticism or quickness, but his power running style would fit well as Bell’s backup.
Conner can take over in goal line situations and in the event that Bell gets injured (or suspended), giving Pittsburgh good depth at running back with DeAngelo Williams out of the mix.