Steelers draft capsule
The following is the fourth of seven position-by-position Steelers 2018 draft analyses:
Currently on the roster: Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter, Trey Griffey, Tevin Jones, Justin Thomas, Marcus Tucker
Last five drafts: The Steelers did well with the pick of Smith-Schuster (2017, second round). Bryant (fourth round, 2014) can be explosive at times but has also been a huge headache for them off the field. Markus Wheaton (2013, third round) and Sammie Coates (2015, third round) showed flashes for the Steelers but weren’t worth the high picks. Wheaton played for the Bears last year and is currently a free agent, while Coates signed with the Texans. DeMarcus Ayers (2016, seventh round) is with the Bears, and Justin Brown (2013, sixth round) is playing in the Canadian Football League after brief careers with the Steelers.
Top wide receivers available: Calvin Ridley, Alabama; D.J. Moore, Maryland; Christian Kirk, Texas A&M; Anthony Miller, Memphis; Courtland Sutton, SMU; James Washington, Oklahoma State
The Steelers might select: Kirk, Miller, Washington in the second or third round. DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State; Keke Coutee Texas Tech; Jeff Badet, Oklahoma; Justin Watson, Penn, in the fifth round
Analysis: Brown is still going strong as he approaches 30 and is under contract for four more years. Smith-Schuster appears to be headed toward NFL stardom as well. Bryant is in the final year of his contract, so this will be a key season to see whether or not he’ll continue to be a Steeler. With that in mind, the Steelers could be in the market for a mid-round receiver to give Ben Roethlisberger another weapon. They’ll most likely look for a receiver to take the place of Eli Rogers, who hasn’t been re-signed at this point. That means they’ll be looking for a player who can play the slot and run the inside routes that will help open up the outside for Brown, Smith-Schuster and Bryant. They could take Kirk, Miller or Washington in the second round, but if either of those slip to the late third round, that would be more ideal. If not, Hamilton would seem like a great fit for the Steelers, but they don’t have a fourth-round pick and he might not last until the fifth round. Coutee, Badet or Watson might have a better chance of being available in the fifth round than Hamilton.
Currently on the roster: Jesse James, Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Jake McGee
Last five drafts: James (2015, fifth round) has done OK for the Steelers but is no Heath Miller. Rob Branchflower (2014, seventh round) never saw much NFL action.
Top tight ends available: Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State; Mike Gesicki, Penn State; Hayden Hurst, South Carolina; Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
The Steelers might select: Goedert, Gesicki in the first or second round; Ian Thomas, Indiana, in the third round; Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin; Dalton Schultz, Stanford, in the fifth round; Will Dissly, Washington; Ethan Wolf, Tennessee, in the seventh round
Analysis: James and McDonald form an OK duo at tight end, but McDonald only played in 10 games and has a history of injuries. It’s unknown on how much of a role tight ends will play in new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner’s plans, so it’s anybody’s guess on whether or not the Steelers will select a tight end in this year’s draft. The guess here is that the Steelers will take a look at the position before each pick and see what’s available — if anyone is on the board with high value they’ll grab him. The Steelers could take a tight end at any point — although the first round would be surprising — but they could also go the entire draft without selecting one.
Coming Monday: Defensive backs
— Buck Frank