The three best moves and the worst one made by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2017 offseason
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the more consistent teams in the league. They won the NFC North two of the last three years and have been to the playoffs in 11 of the last 16 seasons.
However, the Steelers have an aging roster that appears on the verge of a complete rebuild. They have rebuilt on the fly so far, but, at some point, the shoe will drop. The Steelers are putting it off as long as they possibly can.
Here are the three best moves and the worst one made by the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason.
#1. Drafted an heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger
The NFL is a quarterback driven league. Roethlisberger is one of the few elite players in the league at the position. He does not need to be replaced, but, at 35-years-old with a physical style of play, his eventual replacement needs to be in place.
The Steelers thought they drafted one a few years ago in Landry Jones, but it looks like he is better suited to be a backup. This year, the Steelers draft Joshua Dobbs out of the University of Tennessee in the fourth round. He was a bit inconsistent in college, but many experts believe he has all the tools to be a long-time starter in the league. He has the size and athleticism with enough arm traits. He needs to develop the mental traits NFL quarterbacks have and improve his accuracy, but with the right coaching can do it.
#2. Built a really good receiving group
The Steelers get Martavis Bryant back from a lengthy suspension and return Antonio Brown, Eli Rogers, Sammie Coates and Darrius Heyward-Bey. However, there seems to be a lack of consistency from the group.
All of them are more downfield-type receivers. Rogers did a good job on the underneath routes, but he lacks the size to go over the middle against zone coverage. The Steelers found the perfect receiver to complement the entire group. Second round draft pick JuJu Smith-Schuster has the size to make the difficult catch in traffic over the middle as well as the athleticism to get out on the edge and makes plays downfield.
#3. Let some older players leave
The way to deal with an aging roster is to let some of the older players go. The Steelers did with some popular players. They let 31-year-old inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons go to Miami in free agency as well as still unsigned 34-year-old running back DeAngelo Williams, 32-year-old center Cody Wallace, 35-year-old long snapper Greg Warren and 34-year-old backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.
Vince Williams, a 27-year-old Steelers 2013 draft pick, should step into the starting lineup to replace Timmons. James Conner, selected in the third round, should replace DeAngelo Williams as Le’Veon Bell’s backup. Colin Holba, a 22-year-old rookie sixth round draft pick, was selected to replace Warren. Finally, as stated earlier, Jones and Dobbs can fill the backup quarterback job this season.
The Steelers remain in a position to keep rebuilding on the fly.
The worst: Drafting T.J. Watt in the first round
Watt may be a fine player, but the Steelers have to find the right role for him. He is not a great pass rusher, but only played an outside linebacker role in a 3-4 scheme at the University of Wisconsin. There is time to figure it out, but that is part of the problem. The Steelers are built to win now and did not get an immediate impact player in the first round. It is very likely that the team’s second and third round selections have a greater impact right away than their first.
Also, how much of his hype leading into the draft is because his brother is J.J. Watt. If he weren’t a Watt, where would he have been drafted? Probably not 30th overall.
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