Paul Zeise: Steelers should draft the best player available
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert often has said he looks to draft the best player available, regardless of the team’s needs. Most years, that philosophy is a pipe dream and the team drafts to fill whatever position it needs the most help.
The draft is next week, and if you follow things closely, you have probably been convinced the Steelers must pick an outside linebacker and cornerback in the early rounds. They certainly could use help in those areas, but the Steelers would be short-sighted to focus on only those two positions early. If ever there was a year for the Steelers to follow Colbert’s philosophy, this is it.
The Steelers have the luxury of taking the best player available because they have a strong roster in place already. They are mostly looking for depth because their starting lineup is intact. That affords them the ability to take just about any position in the first round. There are also other ways to bolster the pass rush or find another corner beyond the draft if they select players at other positions. The Steelers have been good at finding players in the secondary free agent market and playing the waiver wire.
It may sound like a risk to draft the best player available, but it isn’t. The Steelers are not deep at many positions and any player they take will make them better.
Not sold yet? Take a look at a number of different positions that the Steelers could use help beyond outside linebacker and cornerback. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams is still on the board when the Steelers draft. He won’t be, but let’s just say there is a run at other positions and he falls that far. Would you have a problem drafting him? The Steelers need one more receiver, even if Martavis Bryant is reinstated.
How about an inside linebacker? You mean to tell me that if Alabama’s Reuben Foster slides to No. 30 (something that seems possible given these latest revelations about him) the Steelers shouldn’t at least think long and hard about picking him? Foster would probably start alongside Ryan Shazier, so drafting him would make sense.
I could go through every position – other than kicker and punter – and make a strong argument that the Steelers wouldn’t look foolish if they addressed that position. That includes quarterback, but only if the right one falls to them at 30. If the Steelers have a chance to select a quarterback they determine could be their starter in the future, they need to do it.
The Steelers are strong but could use depth at many positions, so Colbert and company can actually follow his philosophy and take the best player on the board.