What to Expect from the Steelers in 2014
The Pittsburgh Steelers have not made the playoffs in two consecutive years. They will need to restock in a variety of positions in order to remain competitive in the increasingly tough AFC North in order to secure a playoff berth in 2014.
The division itself seems to be improving at an alarming rate in the eyes of Steeler fans. The Bengals are not only reigning divisional champs, but also stocked with young talent on both sides of the ball. Baltimore is set for a comeback after taking a year to deal with changes in the makeup of the team after winning it all, and the Cleveland Browns have not only done a lot in the offseason to bolster their lineup, they also have a ton of draft picks this year.
Once a defensive powerhouse, the Steelers have seen this status decline considerably over the past two years. They’ve also lost two integral receivers on the offensive side. Thankfully, they still have one of the league’s best at the helm of the offense, but the aging Ben Roethlisberger is going to need some new weapons in order to make another Super Bowl run.
In the 2014 draft, the Steelers must look to revamp their once vicious defense and to add tools to the offensive that will let Roethlisberger be the player-maker that everyone knows he can be.
Here is a look at some players that the Steelers might want to target in the upcoming draft.
Cornerback Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State)
Gilbert might be a long shot, since he is expected to come off the board very quickly, but if he is still there at No. 15, the Steelers need to snap him up. Gilbert is probably the best cornerback in the draft. He is big, tough and will be able to shadow the NFL’s best receivers.
Cornerback Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State)
Since there is a good chance that Gilbert will not be available at 15, the Steelers might need to look elsewhere. Another great option in the draft is Dennard, whose playing style would fit perfectly with Dick LeBeau’s defensive schemes. He is a very physical coverage guy that is great in press coverage.
Wide Receiver Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State)
Roethlisberger needs some new tools to work with. The Steelers let Emmanual Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery go, which means they will be expecting Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton to step up. The Steelers could really use a big-bodied receiver, since neither Brown nor Wheaton are over six foot tall. Benjamin is 6’5” and caught 15 touchdowns last year. He could be the perfect red zone weapon for Roethlisberger.
Defensive Tackle DaQuan Jones (Penn State)
This draft will be one of the deepest in recent memory. This is good for teams like the Steelers who need to fill a lot of holes. Thankfully, there will be a lot of defensive talent still on the board in the second and third rounds of the draft. Jones could be the right pick for the Steelers in the second round. Jones is a big guy with a lot of upper body strength. He wards off blocks very effectively and is able to find the ball quickly, which makes him one of the better run-stoppers that are going to be available in the second round.
Fantasy Sleepers for 2014
If you are looking for some sleepers for your fantasy team this year, the Steelers have a couple of good options. Roethlisberger is definitely one. While you probably won’t want him as your starting quarterback, Roethlisberger would be a great bye week replacement on any fantasy team. With a healthier offensive line this year, his number should see a significant increase.
Another good option is Markus Wheaton. He didn’t get a lot of playing time as a rookie last year and had problems with broken fingers throughout the season. Wheaton will take a more featured role in the offense this year and could become Big Ben’s new favorite target.