The Steelers 2015 draft, the key to passing on the ‘torch of success’

Ike Taylor 'The Dean of Swag"
Ike Taylor announced his retirement Tuesday, April 14, 2015, ending a 12-year career in which he helped lead the Steelers to two Super Bowl victories. (Photo by Thomas Sabol)

The 2015 NFL Draft is right around the corner and despite the 11-5 record and AFC North division title in 2014, the Pittsburgh Steelers have many holes they’ll need to fill.  The bulk of those holes are on the defensive side of the ball and it’s anticipated that the bulk of the early round picks will be utilized to fill those positions.  Here’s a look at which positions I believe the Steelers will target in each round in the upcoming draft.

Round 1, pick 22 overall:  The Steelers are in dire need of a pass rushing linebacker, especially with the retirement of Jason Worilds and a lack of depth at the outside linebacker position. They will surely consider a top OLB at this spot

That said, they sorely need a top flight cornerback, maybe more so than the pass rusher and they must, unlike past drafts, look for that guy in the first round. All said and told, I think they will end up finally drafting the cornerback in round 1 to help sure up a very weak secondary.

Round 2, pick 56 overall:  This is simple, the black and gold will select the outside linebacker here, unless they draft him in round one, in which case they will absolutely take the cornerback.  Either way, these two positions must be addressed in the first two rounds in some form or fashion.

Round 3, pick  87 overall:  It’s entirely possible the Steelers could target a 2nd cornerback with this pick or even a second linebacker, inside or outside but I think it’s likely they’ll take a look at safety. With Troy Polamalu retiring and not knowing what they have with Shamarko Thomas yet, they could stand to add depth at the position.  Don’t rule out the team looking at defensive end here either.

Round 4, pick 121 overall:  This is the pick where I think they could first look at the offensive side of the ball. They are set at WR and they added depth at RB via free agency so I think they’ll look at Tight End here. They still have Heath for another couple of years but they could certainly add his replacement now.  I think it’s a strong possibility they look to do so with this 4th round pick.

Round 5, pick 160 overall:  This is the point in the draft where the black and gold could go any direction and will clearly take the best player available. Some possibilities include offensive line, defensive end, defensive tackle or quarterback (to eventually develop into the number 2 guy).  I think they’ll go quarterback here, Bruce Gradkowski is in his final season under contract and Landry Jones has been a disappointment to date, I believe this would be a good round to take the guy they think can back Ben up for the next few years.

Round 6, pick 198 and pick 212:  With two 6th round selections the Steelers will look to add depth at positions. There’s a good chance they’ll add a running back here with one of the picks, perhaps an offensive lineman, even another cornerback is in play.

Round 7, pick 239:  Whatever’s left will be taken here, my guess is it will be a defensive player of some kind as they truly need as much depth on that side of the ball as possible, so safety or even another linebacker would make sense here.

One thing is for certain, with the many holes the Steelers have on the defensive side of the ball, they’ll surely be adding a linebacker and cornerback in the top rounds and will most likely add more defensive players with their eight picks than offensive players. This is a key draft in assisting the Steelers transition from the old school regime of Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel and Ike Taylor to the new class of guys who can carry the torch of success.

Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at

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