by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Visit Pittsburgh.
The NFL season is entering its 10th week, and it is never too early to project what the Steelers’ primary needs may be entering the 2024 Draft. Of course, a lot of decisions need to be made on personnel before the April 25th draft, including possible retirements, free agency and potential trades in the offseason.
Here, Draft 412 reviews two positions that may be of interest for the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 2023 season concludes and will revisit and add other possible positions of need at the end of the campaign.
This coming spring, the Steelers will need to make a decision on whether they believe running back Najee Harris is worthy of a 5th year option and a contract extension—or if he plays out his 4th year and becomes a free agent. If the Steelers decide not to exercise their fifth year of control, this draft will feature plenty of talent at the running back position that GM Omar Khan may be interested in.
Jaylen Warren has proven to be a valuable asset as both a reserve and situational back and is under contract through the 2024 season. The Steelers may want to get their future “feature back” in the 2024 draft or wait until both Warren and Harris’ contracts are up and select one in 2025.
Here are a couple running back prospects the Steelers could look at in 2024:
Michigan- RB- Blake Corum
The Steelers have not had a dominating player that was a three down back since the backfield since Le’Veon Bell was roaming Heinz Field. Blake Corum is a complete running back with elite vision and patience and can be a running back who adds 60 plus catches to his statline. Corum is on the smaller side and would benefit from Jaylen Warren spelling him from time to time. Corum appears to be a 2nd day pick, and if a back like him slides to the 3rd round, the Steelers could jump.
Draft 412’s profile on Blake Corum…
Florida State- RB- Trey Benson
The Steelers could elect to go with a larger back who can carry the ball 20 plus times a game but not bring much to the passing game. Trey Benson of Florida State has impressive cutback ability and an explosive burst through holes that could make him the Steelers’ featured back.
He does not project as a three down back in the pros and has not been utilized as a pass catching back much, if at all, at Florida State. Benson could slide to the 3rd day and the Steelers could use one of their (2) 4th round picks on Benson to go a new direction.
Draft 412’s profile on Trey Benson…
Notre Dame- RB- Audric Estime
Pittsburgh has had luck with running backs from Notre Dame in the past. Rocky Bleier and Jerome Bettis are proof of the Steelers’ luck with the Irish.
Audric Estime is built a lot like the “Bus”, standing at 5’11” and weighing 233 lbs., and with his running style, is tough to tackle. Estime is a decisive runner who gets the ball and goes north and south and cannot be arm tackled. He is on most boards right now as a later pick (6-7 round) and the Steelers can make this selection as just a depth piece or as a planned future starting back.
Draft 412’s profile on Audric Estime…
A tackle? Two years in a row?
Here is the logic: Dan Moore and Chuks Okorafor will both be free agents after the 2024 season and so why not shop for a future starting right tackle to go along with Broderick Jones at left tackle?
There is plenty of first round talent at tackle in this coming class. And if one falls into the Steelers’ lap, Assistant GM Andy Weidl (who helped to build the best offensive line in the NFL when he was in Philadelphia), may be tempted to employ the same tactics here.
However, the Steelers could address this in later rounds as well if they have a certain prospect in mind.
Georgia- Tackle- Amarius Mims
Wait, is this the Philadelphia Eagles or the Pittsburgh Steelers? Back-to-back Georgia Bulldogs in round ones?
Mims is a 6’7” 330 lbs. behemoth who could bookend an offensive line with Broderick Jones. Mims is a bit on the raw side compared to Olu Fashanu, Joe Alt and the other top prospects, but the Steelers could bring him along slowly with Okorafor and Moore still on the roster. Chances are the Steelers will select in that 22-25 range and Mims should still be on the board if they elect to go that direction.
See Draft 412’s profile on Amarius Mims…
Oregon State- Tackle- Taliese Fuaga
Fuaga is a mauler out west and has been rocketing up draft boards. He is 6’6” and 334 lbs. and plays mean—really mean. What makes Fuaga a great match in Pittsburgh is that he is made to be a right tackle and will combo up nicely with Broderick Jones. He was projected as a second or third round pick, but his stellar play has propped him into first round discussions.
See Draft 412’s profile of Taliese Fuaga…
TCU- Tackle- Brandon Coleman
The Steelers may elect to go with a versatile offensive lineman who has experience at both guard and tackle. Brandon Coleman could be that player who could be a big depth piece on the offensive line.
Coleman projects somewhere in the middle rounds. He is 6 '6 " 320 lbs. and has a very good football IQ and understands his assignments at both guard and tackle positions. With 3 linemen due for free agency after the 2024 season, a player with Coleman’s versatility in the middle of the draft could make a lot of sense.
To see Draft 412’s profile on Brandon Coleman…