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Steelers Offseason Update: James Harrison Retires, Draft Scenarios

You know it’s the dog days of the NFL offseason when the biggest news for the Steelers doesn’t involve a player that’s on the team.   Let’s find out what’s going on with these questions:

Did James Harrison retire then break his hand getting hit by a pitch??

No, you’re thinking of Josh Harrison.  James Harrison did announce his retirement (this is technically his 2nd retirement. He retired in 2013) on Instagram this week.

Harrison is the Steelers all-time sacks leader and had one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history, but his ugly departure from the Steelers last season has still left many with a bad taste in their mouth:

 

Harrison played only 40 snaps last season and complained about playing time.  The Steelers released him in late December and he immediately signed with the New England Patriots.  This angered fans and teammates, who complained that he slept through meetings, didn’t help younger players and had a bad attitude.

Will Harrison eventually be inducted into the Steelers Hall of Honor?  Will he make the NFL Hall of Fame?  Will more Steelers fans forget his last season with the Steelers and embrace him as an all-time Steelers great?  Time will tell.  I think eventually fans will put aside their anger with him and remember his many accomplishments with the Steelers.

Who will the Steelers draft in the first round?

Writing about mock drafts is like a meteorologist predicting the weather a week from now- you”re just making a wild guess.  Two things about ‘mock drafts’: 1) Nobody really knows what the teams are thinking except maybe well-connected beat reporters and 2) One trade throws the entire mock draft into chaos.  Let’s look at who the Steelers should draft in order of probability:

  1. Inside Linebacker: This is the Steelers biggest need even though they signed Jon Bostic as a free agent this offseason. There are four linebackers that will probably be taken in the first round.  The Steelers don’t have a shot at Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds but there is a possibility that either Rashaan Evans from Alabama or Leighton Vander Esch from Boise State might be available.  One of these two are the most likely pick for the Steelers, but what they’re gone before the Steelers pick at 28?
  2. Defensive Back: If an inside linebacker isn’t available, the Steelers most likely would take either a safety or cornerback in the first round. Safety prospects include Justin Reid of Stanford , Jessie Bates III of Wake Forest and Ronnie Harrison of Alabama. Cornerback prospects include Jaire Alexander of Louisville.
  3. Offensive Line: Offensive line isn’t a position of need this year, but the Steelers line is getting old and Ramon Foster is a free agent after this season.  It’s possible Billy Price from Ohio State might be available or Kolton Miller from UCLA.
  4. Defensive Line: The Steelers offensive line is good, but it always seems to weaken as the season goes on and they need a good run-stopper.  It’s possible someone like Da’Ron Payne from Alabama or Taven Bryan from Florida could be available.
  5. Running Back: let’s face it – the chances of signing Le’Veon Bell to a long term deal are about as good being struck by lightning while riding a dolphin.  If Derrius Guice is available, why not take him?  Would Bell lose his mind in this scenario?  You betcha!
  6. Wide Receiver: this is another position that will be a need because Martavis Bryant will be gone after this year.  Courtland Sutton of SMU or Christian Kirk of Texas A&M are possibilities.
  7. Quarterback: No, the Steelers are not taking a quarterback in the first round this year! Ben Roethlisberger said he’ll play for another 2 or 3 years.  If the Steelers take a QB in round 1, that player will sit on the bench and hardly play for several years.   Then it might turn into an Aaron Rodgers – Brett Favre situation where the legend still wants to play but the team has to kick him out to play the younger quarterback.

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