There’s less than a week before the 2017 NFL Draft kicks off, and the Pittsburgh Steelers appear to have their plan in place based on the latest rumors out of the Steel City.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a monstrous season that saw them fall one game short of the Super Bowl. With their roster still relatively intact, you can bet they view the 2017 NFL Draft as an opportunity to tie up any lose ends before another deep playoff run.
With the big day less than a week away, we’ve already gotten a decent glimpse at what to expect from the Steelers this year. The rumor mill is currently churning out some interesting tidbits on the team, with an apparent emphasis on the defensive side of the ball. Based on the way they played in 2016, though, that approach makes plenty of sense.
So what should we be looking for the Steelers to do on draft day? No one outside of the organization knows for sure, but the rumors paint a picture of team looking to add defensive playmakers who can contribute immediately. Whether or not they can do that with picks in the later stages of each round, though, remains to be seen.
With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the latest draft rumors surrounding the Steelers. While these likely won’t give you an all-access pass into the Pittsburgh war room, they’ll certainly help you decipher what the team’s mindset is heading into the 2017 NFL Draft.
Last year, the Steelers sorely missed the talents of Martavis Bryant in the passing game. The speedy, lengthy receiver has proven he’s an outstanding playmaker, but can’t seem to keep himself clean off the field. However, after being suspended for an entire season, he appears close to returning.
According to Sporting News’ Alex Marvez, Bryant recently met with the NFL’s Management Council. This meeting was the latest step in his journey toward reinstatement during which he was “told to assemble a plan detailing safeguards that would help him prevent a relapse.” Based on Marvez’ report, the pieces appear to be falling into place for the exceptional receiver’s return.
So what does this have to do with the draft? Well if Bryant isn’t reinstated, the Steelers may feel it necessary to add a receiver during the draft. The current depth at the position is underwhelming at best, which would seemingly necessitate the addition of more capable pass catchers.
While it’s unclear when a reinstatement could occur, the outlook appears positive. Bryant’s return would be a big boost for the Pittsburgh offense. It would also give the Steelers more flexibility to address other needs during the 2017 NFL Draft.
4. Nathan Peterman a Mid-Round Option for Steelers?
This offseason, there’s been significant speculation that the Steelers would start considering a future without Ben Roethlisberger. Although he’s already announced his return for 2017, I don’t think Pittsburgh wants to hand Landry Jones the reins when Big Ben hangs them up.
Chances are the team will target a developmental arm at some point during the 2017 NFL Draft. While I wouldn’t get my hopes up for the Steelers to grab a quarterback in the first round or two, there’s a good chance they take one off the board in the middle rounds. One in particular, though, appears to be garnering significant interest from Pittsburgh.
Nathan Peterman, seen as one of this class’ top sleepers, recently had a workout with the Steelers (via Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson). Not only does it make sense from a talent standpoint, but Pittsburgh also owns two picks at the end of the third round. If they’re sold on Peterman as a potential heir to Roethlisberger’s throne, he could come off the board there.
One way or another, look for the Steelers to draft a quarterback next week. And if it happens to be Peterman, there’s a good chance they’ll be happy with the end results.
One way or another, the Steelers need an upgrade on the edge this offseason. While Bud Dupree has shown plenty of promise, continuing to rely on the NFL’s oldest defender on the other side isn’t enough. Spending an early-round pick on a pass rusher is a must.
As it so happens, Pittsburgh has taken a keen interest in Alabama’s Tim Williams. The Crimson Tide edge rusher recently visited with the Steelers (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), who are obviously eager to add a high-upside outside linebacker — especially after the departure of Jarvis Jones via free agency.
There are some concerns when it comes to Williams, though. Once considered a potential top-10 pick, he watched his stock decline this past year due to reports of failed drug tests and a gun charge. Those aren’t the type of issues NFL teams like to mess with. The Steelers specifically have to be wary considering the off-field problems a number of their players have recently faced.
Still, though, Williams is an intriguing option who will likely come off the board on Day 2. If the Steelers are convinced his problems are in the past, they could roll the dice on the Alabama product if he’s still available.
2. Jarrad Davis an Option for Pittsburgh on Day 1?
Following the departure of Lawrence Timmons, the Steelers are left with a significant void in the middle of their defense. While Timmons wasn’t a superstar in his last couple of seasons in Pittsburgh, his leadership and experience still made him an impact player.
While the Steelers have Ryan Shazier starring in the middle, they could use an upgrade at the other inside linebacker spot. Vince Williams is currently penciled in as the other starter, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team add another potential playmaker at the position. It’s not like Tyler Matakevich or L.J. Fort is the answer.
That’s why their interest in Jarrad Davis makes sense (via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler). The outstanding linebacker prospect has watched his stock go up and down throughout the draft process. However, at this point, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to watch him come off the board on Day 1. Enter the Steelers, who happen to own the No. 30 overall selection.
Davis is a tremendous mix of leadership, athleticism and instincts. He flies around the field making big plays no matter what the offense throws at him. Teaming him with Shazier would give this Pittsburgh defense a big boost heading into 2017.
Even after the addition of Artie Burns and Sean Davis in 2016, the Pittsburgh secondary could use some help. The Steelers have a handful of capable contributors at cornerback and decent starting safeties, but more depth and starting-caliber options are needed.
So you can probably understand why they’re taking a long look at some defensive backs who could be available at the end of the first round. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers recently visited with cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety Obi Melifonwu — both considered Day-1 talents.
While Humphrey spent most of the 2016 season earning first-round consideration, Melifonwu recently saw his draft stock soar after blowing up the NFL Combine. While they play different positions and bring different assets to the table, both would be excellent additions for this Pittsburgh pass defense.
So what will the Steelers decide to do in the first round? No one outside of the organization knows, but the odds appear in favor of them taking a defensive back. If that’s the case, either Humphrey or Melifonwu seem like excellent candidates at No. 30 overall.