With so many needs, Steelers can ill afford to miss in draft
The decisions the Steelers face during the three-day May draft might be the most difficult to date for the Kevin Colbert-Mike Tomlin partnership.
There's so much to improve and so few picks with which to do so — and so little money available to go shopping in the NFL free-agent market that starts Tuesday.
Three players on defense (LaMarr Woodley, Ike Taylor and Lawrence Timmons) are set to count more than $10 million each against the cap next season, a staggering $37.4 million that is about one-fourth of the Steelers' $133 million cap. Woodley and Taylor are candidates for big pay cuts — or releases — depending on how much more cap space the Steelers believe they need.
The cap situation, and the lack of flexibility it gives them in free agency, further heightens the importance of this draft.
So do the Steelers draft a cover cornerback who adds youth and speed to an aging secondary? An inside linebacker who can provide run support? With Troy Polamalu about to turn 33, do they take a second high-round safety in as many seasons?
And what about the pass rush, especially now that Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood appear to be on the way out?
The Steelers will have an abundance of options with the No. 15 pick. And just like last year when they took pass rusher Jarvis Jones, they don't dare miss with this one.
Cornerbacks are among the most coveted — and some of the most selected — players in the draft, but Alabama safety Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix widely is rated as the top available player in the secondary. Some top-50 evaluations in advance of the NFL Combine last month didn't include a cornerback.
Louisville safety Calvin Pryor is a big hitter — he has a Shamarko Thomas-like reputation — with good size (6-foot-2, 208 pounds). Cornerback Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State also is a kick returner, another position where the Steelers need help, but he could be gone by No. 15. The best pure pass defender might be cornerback Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State, but his 40 speed (4.51) is a concern.
The best pass rusher available looks to be UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, a former running back, but he might not last until the Steelers choose. A defensive end with a Steelers-type skill set is Stanford's Trent Murphy, a high-energy, high-production player who might be available in the second round.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Agent: Polamalu undecided whether to play in 2015
- Starkey: In defense of Mel Kiper Jr.
- Steelers not limiting themselves in free agency
- No tag for Worilds; Steelers cut Moore
- Big names become available this week via free agency; will Steelers be tempted?
- Steelers restructure Gilbert, Mitchell contracts; Pouncey close
- Depth a concern for Steelers’ Colbert
- Steelers GM Colbert prepared to look at all options before draft
- Steelers’ Harrison announces desire to play one more year
- Steelers’ decision for NFL Draft: Pass rusher or cornerback?
- Steelers release WR Lance Moore