Pittsburgh Steelers: Linebacker
The contract drama of running back Le’Veon Bell figures to have a major impact on how the Steelers view this draft, but if they feel there will be progress towards a contract extension, expect the team to spend another pick on a linebacker early on.
TJ Watt was one of the more impressive rookies in the league on defense in 2017, but the Steelers will need to shore up the inside linebacking corps heading into the 2018 draft. Pittsburgh gave up the fourth-most yards per carry in the league last season, part of which was due to disappointing play on the interior of the defense.
The Steelers will likely miss out on players like Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds and Leighton Vander Esch, but there are a number of players who could make sense for the team in the late first and beyond. Pittsburgh has already met with Texas’ Malik Jefferson and Alabama’s Rashaan Evans during the draft process and could capitalize on their falling draft stock. If the club is able to stop the run, they could find themselves on a collision course with another storied playoff showdown with the New England Patriots in the AFC playoffs.
How the club feels about the progress of negotiations with Le’Veon Bell will also be a key factor in whether or not they address running back early on, which happens to be one of the deepest position groups in the 2018 draft. The final wild card would be the quarterback position. Despite Ben Roethlisberger’s intentions to play for several more years, the Steelers may be enticed by a developmental quarterback such as Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.