The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the draft with needs at numerous positions, most of which they addressed. How effectively they addressed those needs remains a debate. Entering the draft, they had more needs than draft picks to address those needs. Because of this dilemma, the Steelers were going to have needs following the draft, regardless of how well they drafted. These three positions should still be addressed by the Steelers before the season starts.
Remaining Positions of Need for the Pittsburgh Steelers
It was a rough off-season for Pittsburgh’s cornerback room. Mike Hilton left for the Cincinnati Bengals and Steven Nelson requested to be released. With the snap of a finger, two of their top three cornerbacks were gone from 2020. Cameron Sutton and Joe Haden form a solid pair of cornerbacks, but the depth has been destroyed this off-season. Justin Layne is probably the primary backup at both cornerback spots, and he did not show much promise in limited reps last season.
The only other cornerback depth on the Steelers roster comes from undrafted players. Shakur Brown and James Pierre make up the rest of Pittsburgh’s expected cornerback room. Brown, an undrafted rookie from Michigan State, is expected to compete for the role of nickel cornerback, which Hilton held down previously. Pierre, an undrafted rookie in 2020, will provide depth on the outside. Based on last season’s performance, don’t be surprised if Pierre surpasses Layne for the number three cornerback spot. Still, it would be very beneficial for the Steelers to pick up some proven depth at this position.
Any position along the offensive line could be strengthened for Pittsburgh. Really, they could probably use a starter at tackle, though their starting five for the season seems to be set. On the interior, a swing guard could prove valuable for the Steelers in 2021. Left guard Kevin Dotson looked very promising as a rookie in 2020. David DeCastro, who has been a premier guard in the NFL for years, battled through injuries in 2020. If he’s healthy, the offensive line should be much-improved. But if he’s not healthy, a competent backup is a must.
On the outside, Pittsburgh enters the season with serious question marks. The starters will be Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner. Banner entered the 2020 season as the starting right tackle. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in Week 1, which resulted in Okorafor joining the starting unit. After a respectable start, Okorafor really struggled to end the season. Now moving to left tackle, he is not the ideal candidate to protect Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side. Banner’s question marks revolve around health. In a division stacked with elite pass rushers, this is a very risky pair of tackles for the Steelers. Some additional depth would be a huge help.
Despite a solid draft selection at outside linebacker, the position remains a need for the Steelers. Quincy Roche was a very valuable sixth round draft choice, but he doesn’t solve all of Pittsburgh’s problems. After Roche, Cassius Marsh is the only outside linebacker depth on the roster. We know that Pittsburgh made an attempt to sign Ryan Kerrigan, so they are in the market for an edge defender
Pittsburgh asks their outside linebackers to play a lot of snaps, which is a blessing and a curse when their depth is lacking. If T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith are healthy, the depth concerns won’t be a huge problem. If one was to miss time, though, they would have a massive issue. Then, they would be asking Marsh or Roche to come in and play 80-90% of total defensive snaps. That’s a lot to ask of any backup, let alone these backups. Pittsburgh must add an outside linebacker before the season starts. The depth is non-existent and poses a huge problem for their defense.
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