Pittsburgh Steelers team needs: Expecting significant change in 2013

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

As we look toward the 2013 offseason, we discuss the team needs of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It was a disappointing season for the Pittsburgh Steelers who not only failed to make the playoffs, but watched their division rival win Super Bowl XLVII.

In 2012, the Steelers were overcome by injuries and their division foes in were able to take advantage. The Bengals and Ravens soared past them this season, both locking up spots in the playoffs. Their age showed against younger, more explosive teams and by season's end, they could only muster an 8-8 record.

One could argue that these problems began in the offseason.

They brought in Todd Haley to be the offensive coordinator with intention that it would open up the passing attack. However, it led to an identity crisis that was reflected throughout the season. They did not field the same cohesive attack fans were accustomed to.

No. 1 wide receiver Mike Wallace also held out for a long-term, big money deal. The Steelers turned around and extended his counterpart, Antonio Brown and retained Wallace with a restricted free agent tender.

And despite the talent on the roster, the passing game could not find a rhythm. The Steelers were out of sync off the field and it reflected on the field. It also did not help that their running backs was banged up and changed biweekly.

Biggest Need: Running back

The Steelers need to get back to basics here by bringing in a workhorse running back. They need a true feature back to help balance this offense and help account for the lackluster play on the offensive line. Pittsburgh will look to pickup an every-down guy who can run in between the tackles and be a consistent threat.

They seemed to have lost that element this past season with guys like Isaac Redman and scat-back Chris Rainey. Rashard Mendenhall's production dropped, and he has struggled to stay healthy. Finding a productive running back would also help get this offense back on track and take some pressure off of Ben Roethlisberger.

They can do that by emphasizing the run game this offseason.

Other Needs: WR, OL, LB, S

In the eyes of many, Max Starks has been done for a couple years now. Starks gets washed out against most pass rushers. He was solid because he provided a wall but his game has been in decline. What kind of player do they have in second-year tackle Mike Adams? He struggled on the left side last season, but another year of experience could help. Another first-round pick for an offensive lineman might be out of the question, but Pittsburgh can find some much-needed depth later in the draft.

The Steelers also need to realize this linebacking corps needs a serious reboot. Inside linebacker Larry Foote is a free agent. Both in their mid-20's, Lawrence Timmons and LeMarr Woodley restructured their contracts to help clear cap space. Finding a replacement for James Harrison, 35, should be a priority.

But a new outside rusher and a general to command this unit from inside out would be ideal for this defense. Pittsburgh also has to concern themselves with their aging defensive line and secondary. Troy Polamalu is going to be 32 years old this season and Ryan Clark's on-the-field time has been limited. They also lack an above average cornerback.

And finally, with the anticipated loss of Mike Wallace via free agency, the Steelers will need to add some talent to the wide receiving corps as Antonio Brown looks to take the lead.

NFL Draft Outlook:

The running back position and replenishing this defense have to be points of emphasis for the Steelers in this year's draft.

With this draft class, Pittsburgh can refresh their entire running back corps this year. In terms of a fit, someone that should be on the Steelers' radar is Montee Ball, formerly of the Wisconsin Badgers. This guy projects to be an every-down back and is a tough runner by nature.

According to CBS Sports:

Ball does a nice job finding the run lanes and attacking the line of scrimmage with good quickness in tight areas, showing the speed to get around the edge. He has good balance and deceiving run power to slip out of tackles, rarely going down easily.

Ball has sharp change-of-direction ability to quickly redirect his momentum and the footwork to sidestep defenders, bursting upfield. He is determined and runs with purpose, but also stays patient, following and allowing blocks to develop.

But Ball is expected to go somewhere between the second and third round. The Steelers have the 17th overall selection in the draft and could look to add the best defensive player available.

Outside of the running back position, the Steelers clearly need to bulk up on defense. They need to add some high-ceiling players that have a chance to develop behind these seasoned veterans in Pittsburgh. When their turn comes to pick in the middle of the first round, they should take the BPA on defense. Jarvis Jones would be a great pick, if he falls that far in the draft. If not, Alec Ogletree could be a player to watch.

From a personnel standpoint, this team could look very different this coming season. Age and huge salaries are preventing this team from being more cohesive across the board.

Expect some changes in 2013.

More in the NFL:

NFL Mock Draft: New names rising in first round

Uffsides: Von Miller talks with SB Nation

Ranking the NFL's top offensive free agents

Joe Flacco and the history of $100 million contracts

The NFL's disappearing middle class

NFL news roundup: Roger Goodell terrified, Shawne Merriman retires and the latest on free agency

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.