First: Character Matters
The Steelers emphasized high character/tough guys. Coincidence after the tough offseasons recently? Watt and Conner are known for being high-character/high energy guys. Leaders. JuJu Smith-Shuster is a tough, Ward-esque receiver in terms of fight for the ball and willingness to go over the middle. Sutton doesn’t take a rep off – he works hard every play. Dobbs is a rocket scientist. None have off-field concerns.
Second: The Board Matters
The Steelers didn’t reach for greater need – even when the need (at DB) was great. There were DB’s round two to be had, but they stayed true to their rankings and took a receiver. No one would have blinked an eye if they took a DB round two – but they took the better player at a position seemingly of lesser need.
Third: 2018/The Future Matters
The Steelers didn’t go for quick fixes – Watt, JuJu – these are players who have bigger upside but are less refined. They’ll take time and most won’t contribute a great deal this season – some spot duty. Dobbs, Allen and Adams are long-term projects. Interestingly third-rounder Sutton may get more reps than any of the picks.
Fourth: Free Agency Matters
For those who feel the Steelers don’t participate in free agency. The signings of Sensabaugh and Alualu were big factors in their ability to take JuJu Smith-Shuster in round two. It took the pressure off of their need for a cornerback or lineman.
Fifth: Competition Matters
At the positions most in need of being addressed this offseason – wide receiver, corner, linebacker, backup running back – there are now logjams of players vying to compete and start. There are nine receivers who can play for most teams vying for roster spots. Running back is now four players deep in terms of guys who can or have played. Corner is seven players deep with guys who have or can play significant snaps. These battles are foundational for the way the Steelers build their roster. It makes every player better.