We’ve all heard it. We’ve all been saying it. The Steelers need an edge rusher in the first round. Slam dunk, no questions asked. But do they really? This draft seems to be as deep with edge rushers as has been the case in some time. It seems likely there will be a few good prospects available to the Steelers in round two. Then there’s the almost certain possibility that James Harrison the will be back with the team in 2017. If he is back, Harrison will be a starter along side Bud Dupree without question. So if an edge rusher is the choice at number 30, he is almost assured of having little impact in 2017 barring injury. Drafting so late in the first round means that all the top tier pass rushers will be off the board anyway. Why not wait another round to draft a developmental player, and try to get an impact player in round one?
If you’re looking for an impact player at the end of round one, look no further then running back Christian McCaffrey from Stanford. The Heisman Trophy finalist has had eye popping numbers over his college career. In 2015,the Stanford star rushed for 2019 yards to go along with 645 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns. He followed up that monster season with 1600 yards on the ground, and 310 through the air with 16 touchdowns. McCaffrey would make an excellent back up for Le’veon Bell in the Steelers offense. Pittsburgh needs to start lessening the work load on Bell in the coming years. He could also serve as receiver either in the slot, or spread out wide. Basically Mccaffrey would be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Todd Haley could spend days planning on the different ways to use such a dynamic and versatile player. There’s even help here for the black hole that is the Steelers return game. Pittsburgh’s kick return game has been awful the last several years, and is in dire need of an upgrade. Mccaffrey averaged nearly 30 yards a kick return in his sophomore season. Basically you are improving three or four positions by drafting this player in the first round. It would be hard to find better value then that in any other player.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have gone defense in the first round five out of the last six years, and four in a row now. It’s time to switch gears and add another weapon to an already potent offense. The Steelers defense is improving, but it’s far from dominant. Ensuring that the offense is dominant is the way to go in the current state of the NFL. Drafting Christian McCaffrey would do just that for this team.