In their desire to get every last drop out of the defensive ploayers I'm not sure we have the kluxury on defense to draft a player in Round 1 or 2 and then let LeBeau put them on a shelf for two years. Time to change the way we do business on defense.With the exception of BB, The Steelers have always drafted offensive skill players in the 1st round with intentions of them contributing from day 1 as far back as 1990 with Eric Green when the "need" arises. It is almost an exact science for them on that side of the ball. If they aren't starting year 1, it is the next year...But they still have major production in their rookie year if they aren't starting. That goes hand-in-hand with the philosophy on not spending in FA. When they are faced with a "need' on that side of the ball...It is addressed in the draft. The expectations are for them to start or contribute day 1. To be honest, the Steelers have been very fortunate lately with any offensive players in general contributing early regardless of the position.
On the other side...Because of contract commitments, depth, and the dreaded "learning DL system" theory... The Steelers tend to draft defensive players "In waiting". It has been the luxury of the Steelers to draft talent and let them learn on that side of the ball behind vets. The time has come for all the "In Waiting" players to sit at the table. Where there is no "in waiting" players behind aging vets, they will be addressed.
Defensively...I believe the Steelers are comfortable & confident in their DL. The starters & depth will all be in place. I feel the same about CB. Lewis will be their priority. ILB is a question mark. I don't think Foote will be back but I don't think the Steelers are concerned about a high pick there. Possibly in the 3-7 range. OLB seems to be the biggest concern everywhere...Maybe not at the top of the list for the Steelers though. I think all that will be left for the Steelers at OLB will be conversion DEs and the Steelers tend to draft them outside the 1st round. I also believe the smoke & mirrors game will be played because the Steelers feel they have a starter in waiting if Harrison is cut and depth behind them in Carter & Robinson. They won't be pressured in round 1 at OLB to jump on a coversion project. You know my feeling on Jones's and the only one I wouldn't label a "conversion project" at #17 would be Moore. Moore will be long gone. So that brings us to S. Safety is a possibilty especially if one of Clark or Polamalu is released.
Offensively...WR is definately a possibilty. I think that may be the highest probability if Wallace leaves which is what I think will happen. If Wallace leaves, a struggling running game will have to account for another guy in the box. I am a big fan of Wallace and hate to see him go. His departure will have the most impact on either side of the ball regardless of FA loss or cuts hands down. That will have to be addressed immediately because there is NOBODY on the roster that can pick up his production or opposed gameplanning. There is a lacking main ingredient in trying to turn around a struggling offense and it won't be "purchased" in FA. Burress & Cothchery are not the solutions either...They are role players. I don't expect Burress to be brought back until after the draft if at all. RB will become a concern if Mendy departs. Smart thing for him to do is sign a 1 year and increase his value. Don't know if that will happen. Don't like any RBs as a first round grade. TE needs to be addressed especially with Miller's status but I don't think any are worthy of first round consideration. OL is puzzling. Don't think you can take a G in the first based on what has happened over the last several drafts. If a premiere LT is there and you think Gilbert can play G at this level than maybe a LT. I just don't see the Steelers thinking OL at all in the 1st. That is my opinion.
I've always desired a offensive player in Round 1 because you can expect they will get a real opportunity to contribute because they won't be held back.