- Associated Press - Sunday, April 22, 2018

28. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (13-4)

LAST SEASON: Steelers had little trouble rolling to third AFC North title in four years but flamed out in playoffs when Jaguars stunned them for second time in four months, 45-42 in divisional round. Defense led NFL and set franchise record with 57 sacks, but also had trouble getting stops late in season following Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Shazier’s spinal injury. Pittsburgh allowed 350 yards and 28 points after Shazier went down. Shazier has already been ruled out for 2018, leaving Steelers thin at inside linebacker. Secondary is being overhauled after veterans Mike Mitchell, William Gay and Robert Golden were cut. Offense finished third in yards and eighth in points but it wasn’t enough for coordinator Todd Haley to keep job. Team wasted little time promoting quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner to take over.

THEY NEED: LB, CB, RB, TE.

THEY DON’T NEED: LT, C, DE.

POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State; LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama; CB Josh Jackson, Iowa; RB Derrius Guice, LSU.



OUTLOOK: Steelers have leaned on draft heavily to replenish linebacker group, using first-round pick for one in four of last five years. With Shazier out and 2015 first-round pick Bud Dupree’s long-term status unknown, it’s likely Pittsburgh goes to well again at No. 28 overall. Cornerback would also make sense early, but Steelers could also tip hand about plans for RB Le’Veon Bell and QB Ben Roethlisberger in second and third rounds. Bell has yet to sign franchise tender, will head for 2019 free agency with no new deal. Roethlisberger said after loss to Jacksonville he believes he can play three more years. If Steelers don’t believe him, they could take shot at landing successor early. They haven’t taken QB before fourth round since grabbing Roethlisberger 11th overall in 2004.

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