The Pittsburgh Steelers had a less than stellar year in 2013, finishing 8-8. They did however close the season strong, winning their final three games, two of which were against teams that ended up going to the playoffs, the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals. If what we saw in the final three games is any indication of what we will see in 2014, Steeler fans will be some happy campers.
The Steelers struggled on offense last year finishing the season 20th in passing and 27th in rushing the ball. In part due to the fact that their lead running back, Le’Veon Bell, missed the first three games of the 2013 season due to an injury. Big Ben actually played the entire season and his numbers were on par with his career numbers, the Steelers were just unable to take those close games.
The Steelers didn’t do themselves a favor losing veteran receiver, Emmanuel Sanders to the Denver Broncos. Pittsburgh additionally lost Jerricho Cotchery to the Carolina Panthers, but were able to sign former Saint, Lance Moore to replace him. The Steelers will still have to address this need through the draft in a little less than a week from today if they want to pick up where they left off. Receiver isn’t Pittsburgh’s largest need nonetheless, the Steelers need a cornerback. While current starting corner William Gay played well in 2013 and flew under a lot of people radar, Ike Taylor under performed and turns 34 in May.
Based off of needs, loss of free agents, as well the addition of them, we will try and predict what the Pittsburgh Steelers will select with their first three picks in the 2014 NFL draft.
1st round-15th pick overall- WR, Odell Beckham Jr, LSU:
With the departure of the aforementioned receiver Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery. The Steelers are left with a pretty large need for a receiver who can potentially take pressure off of current wide out, Antonio Brown. Which Beckham can do and then some. The Steelers could go cornerback here too or maybe even trade up to and get defensive tackle Aaron Donald. But, Pittsburgh has said they want to take a receiver with their first pick and I tend to believe them.
2nd round- 46th pick overall - CB, Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State:
The Steelers need to find a replacement for the aging Ike Taylor, who did not play well in 2013 and is turning 34 this year. Lucky for the Steelers the 2014 NFL draft is deep with cornerbacks. Music to Dick Lebeau’s ear, I’m sure. Lebeau loves to send pressure after the quarterback, but to do that effectively, you need cornerbacks that can lock up their guys in coverage, so your pass rushers have the time sack the QB. Joyner can do that and get in between the hash marks to make a tackle. Joyner also played safety, so Lebeau could use him almost anywhere in the secondary.
3rd round-97th pick overall- DT, Caraun Reid, Princeton:
Pittsburgh is lacking at depth when it comes to the nose tackle position. Reid, is big and more impressively he’s fast. The 10-yard split is really the number you care about with pass rushers and for a 6’2” 300 pounder, going 10-yards in 1.65 seconds is outstanding and faster than most of the guys projected to go in the first round.
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