With the 2017 NFL season concluding after this past Sunday’s Super Bowl it is time for teams to set their sights on the 2018 offseason. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it seems that they will have quite a bit to take care of before the beginning of the regular season, but the NFL draft is one thing Pittsburgh seems to always succeed in. The Steelers are known for their drafting prowess and will need to be fully prepared going into this year’s draft to bolster their already star-studded roster. Here are three needs the Steelers should address in this year’s draft to have a shot at winning their seventh Super Bowl.

Rashaan Evans, ILB Alabama 

The loss of Ryan Shazier made a bigger impact than most expected this season, and from the looks of it Pittsburgh will be without their starting inside linebacker for an extended period of time. Rashaan Evans would be an excellent fit to fill Shazier’s shoes for the time being. The 6’3” 235 pound linebacker showed great speed and physicality this year, racking up 66 tackles, 11.5 for loss, to go with six sacks in Alabama’s loaded defense. Even though Evans did play for a loaded defense, he still will find himself selected before the first round comes to a close. He would be a perfect fit in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 scheme and could become a future all-pro linebacker if he can stay healthy.

Ronnie Harrison, S Alabama 

If you haven’t noticed, there is a reoccurring theme in drafting defensive players from Alabama this season, and we’ll soon see why that is the case. Ronnie Harrison decided to forego his senior season to enter this year’s draft, and the Steelers are in need of a play-making safety. Harrison is a towering 6’3” and weighs in at 215 pounds, making him one of the bigger safeties in his class. He played extremely well as an enforcer in Alabama’s defense with 74 tackles, two and a half sacks, and three interceptions. Although his man coverage skills need some refining, Harrison does just fine playing zone coverage from his position. There have been talks of the Steelers releasing veteran Mike Mitchell to free up some cap space, and Harrison seems like the guy to come in and take his spot. Pittsburgh may have to play around with moving safety Sean Davis and Harrison to find the best fit, but that doesn’t seem like a hard problem to solve.

Lamar Jackson, QB Louisville 

This will most definitely be an unpopular opinion, but Ben Roethlisberger is only getting older, and Landry Jones is not the guy the Steelers want to depend on in the future. Jackson was a human highlight reel all throughout his career at Louisville. At 6’3” 205 pounds Jackson may need to beef up a little, but his unique dual threat capabilities make him one of the most dynamic athletes in this year’s draft class. His Heisman winning sophomore season was one to remember, putting up over 3,500 yards through the air and 30 touchdowns while adding more than 1,500 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. His junior season looked almost identical to that, but Jackson was snubbed from this year’s Heisman Trophy ceremony. Putting Jackson on a team with the likes of Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and Juju Smith-Schuster would be a lot of fun to watch for seasons to come, and Pittsburgh will be in need of a franchise quarterback sooner rather than later. Taking Jackson could be a bit of a stretch for the Steelers, but the risk may be worth the reward, and the payoff could be immense.

The Steelers usually surprise everyone in the draft, but come week one they silence all of their doubters once their rookies show what they are made of. And I am sure this season will be no different, but there is no question the Steelers need significant help on the defensive side of the ball as well as someone to take the reigns from Big Ben and keep this offense at the top. Pittsburgh always comes through with excellent picks and they will do so this season to help their chances at winning a record seventh Super Bowl.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.


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