The Pittsburgh Steelers had to bite the bullet already this offseason, cutting loose veterans like Hines Ward, James Farrior and Aaron Smith. With all of those veterans gone in the name of getting younger, it will be time to bring in some new talent.
Thankfully for the Steelers, they have 10 picks when the draft kicks off Thursday night, starting with the 24th pick of the opening round.
The Steelers had some serious losses throughout their team but they sorely need a nose tackle for their 3-4 defense, an inside linebacker to replace Farrior's contribution, and help on the interior of the offensive line.
Their ideal pick might be inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower from Alabama. Pittsburgh has a hole in the middle of their defense right now and Larry Foote and Stevenson Sylvester probably aren't reliable enough for Dick LeBeau going into the season.
The 6'2 265 pound, Hightower is a prototypical NFL linebacker. He compares favorably with Rolando McClain or Brandon Spikes as a disruptive presence on the defensive side of the ball.
If Hightower isn't there, look for the Steelers to fill up the middle of their defensive line with a player like Devon Still or Jerel Worthy.
Still is a 6'5 303 pound Penn State product is one of the safest picks in the draft. Still is projected to come in and be an immediate starter at defensive tackle. He is solid against the run and has the strength to take on NFL linemen. His lack of speed and athleticism will keep him from being drafted higher and keep him from getting many NFL sacks.
Worthy is a 6'2 308 pound defensive tackle from Michigan State. Worthy skipped his senior year to enter the draft after a solid career in Lansing. He, like Still, is ready to contribute right away. The difference between them is that while Still is undoubtedly better against the run, Worthy has the ability to pressure the quarterback as well.
With their second pick at 56, the Steelers will need to go offensive line. They had trouble keeping five healthy players together at points during this season and they will need to address that weakness.
They could get someone like Amini Silatolu from Midwestern State as Reuter suggests in his latest mock draft. Silatolu will need some time to develop, making the jump from Division II college to the pros as well as changing from a tackle to a guard but he could be a good fit for Pittsburgh.