1. They were a different team after defensive anchor Ryan Shazier went down with a spinal injury late last season. The Steelers have drafted a linebacker with their first-round selection in three of the past four years. They may very well make it four of five.
Advice: Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch or Alabama’s Rashaan Evans could be reasonable targets with the 28th overall pick. But if Pittsburgh’s search extends beyond the first round, players like South Carolina State’s Darius Leonard and Iowa’s Josey Jewell could also be solid fits in coordinator Keith Butler’s defense.
2. Ben Roethlisberger has pondered retirement in recent years, making the need to find the next franchise quarterback a growing priority.
Advice: The Steelers don’t own a fourth rounder, so if they pounce on a passer, it has to be in the draft’s first two days. Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, Washington State’s Luke Falk and Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta are among the realistic targets.
3. It may seem odd for a team with Le’Veon Bell at running back to possibly be considering replacement options. But because Bell’s ongoing contract negotiations haven’t been smooth, his long-term future with the franchise remains in doubt. If Bell and GM Kevin Colbert can’t hammer out an extension, it seems highly unlikely Pittsburgh would franchise Bell for the third straight year in 2019.
Advice: This draft is deep at running back and might even offer players with three-down skill sets close to Bell’s. USC’s Ronald Jones, Georgia’s Sony Michel, LSU’s Derrius Guice and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny could be available on Day 2, though it’s not likely any will last until the Steelers are on the clock at No. 60. Colbert would probably have to make some kind of move to get one of them.