Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers were expected to compete with the New England Patriots for a playoff appearance this season. Unfortunately, the Jacksonville Jaguars ended those hopes with a thrilling 45-42 win in Pittsburgh. Now, the Steelers’ focus will shift to the upcoming offseason.
While the loss will sting for the Steelers, they will still be one of the top teams in the AFC next year. Big Ben will be back, while Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are widely expected to be back as well.
According to a report from ESPN, Bell, who will hit free agency this offseason, would like to return to the Steelers. That being said, he will need the circumstances to be right. In other words, he will want to get paid the contract that he deserves and does not want to be franchise tagged once again.
Looking ahead at the offseason, the Steelers will also look to bring in a few talented players in the draft. There are quite a few players in the first few rounds that could become potential stars at the next level. Pittsburgh has been known to draft very well, and their scouting department has been one of the best in the NFL over the past few years.
All of that being said, which prospects should the Steelers consider targeting in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft?
Lamar Jackson, Quarterback, Louisville
It hasn’t been a secret that Big Ben has considered retirement in recent history, although that doesn’t appear to be the case this offseason. Even though he is expected to come back in 2018, the Steelers need to begin planning for his departure. Lamar Jackson could slip to the late first round, and taking him to learn behind Roethlisberger for a year or two wouldn’t be a bad move at all.
Terrell Edmunds, Linebacker, Virginia Tech
Pittsburgh also has a need at the outside linebacker position, and Terrell Edmunds could be a big help. After seeing Ryan Shazier go down with a devastating injury and his future in football still unsure, Edmunds could help fill that void. Bringing in an athletic and fast linebacker is a must for the Steelers and Edmunds fits that bill.
Ronnie Harrison, Safety, Alabama
Sticking with the defensive side of the football, Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison could make sense for the Steelers. They have a need at the safety position, and Harrison has the potential to become an NFL star. There is a chance that he could already be gone, but if he’s available, the Steelers should certainly consider him.
Nick Chubb, Running Back, Georgia
Could the Steelers consider drafting Le’Veon Bell’s potential replacement in the event that he leaves town? He certainly could consider leaving Pittsburgh, and Nick Chubb would be excellent insurance for the Steelers. Drafting Chubb in the first round may not be too likely right now, but if Bell gives them a bad feeling, it wouldn’t be surprising.