The Steelers will head into the offseason needing significant upgrades at several key positions. The 2012 season has exposed multiple weak spots on the personnel front resulting from injuries or substandard play by the incumbents. Those must be addressed if Pittsburgh hopes to reach the Super Bowl next year.
A successful 2013 season requires shoring up the middle of the offensive line, securing a competent backup quarterback, finding a defensive tackle who can plug up the middle, picking up a run-stuffing linebacker and selecting an every-down running back who can ease the pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The question for Pittsburgh’s front office is whether to address these needs via free agency or through the 2013 draft. The relative merits and drawbacks of each option are obvious.
The former is financially riskier but can have a higher upside in the short run. High-profile free agents can step in and contribute from day one. However, they cost more and will not be around forever.
The latter is safer in the long term but may not address the team’s immediate needs. Draft picks are bound by the rookie wage scale and have more years of service ahead of them than most free agents. But they may not be ready to step in for several years.
As a result, the direction the Steelers go for each position depends on how urgent that need is and which free agents and potential draft picks are available.
The following is a list of one free agent and one NFL-bound college player the Steelers should consider to fill each of the holes that have emerged during the 2012 season. The list runs from greatest to least need and also includes judgments on which way Pittsburgh should go in each case.