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Monday, January 20, 2014
How much of a draft priority is OT?

By Scott Brown

PITTSBURGH -- The practices leading up to the Senior Bowl will give the Steelers an extended look at a handful of offensive tackles they could target if they don’t take one in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.

Yet one of the biggest questions that will shape the Steelers'  draft is how much of a priority they place on offensive tackle.

Scouts, Inc.’s Kevin Weidl lists offensive tackle as the Steelers’ biggest need Insider in this year’s draft because of questions surrounding former second-round picks Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams.

I think the emergence of Kelvin Beachum makes drafting a tackle less of a priority, but Weidl makes a good case for taking a left tackle, such as Michigan’s Taylor Lewan, with the 15th overall pick.

Ben Roethlisberger turns 32 in March and the Steelers will make another hefty investment in their franchise quarterback at some point. Prolonging his career gives the Steelers the best chance of achieving their goal of competing for the Super Bowl every season.

Weidl also makes his case by pointing out that as promising a running back as they Steelers have in Le'Veon Bell they still finished 27th in the NFL in rushing this season.

Lewan is not playing in the Senior Bowl Saturday in Mobile, Ala., and there are a number of underclassmen at tackle who are likely first-round picks but are not eligible for the game.

Ohio State’s Jack Mewhort, Notre Dame’s Zack Martin, Tennessee’s Ja'Wuan James and Clemson’s Brandon Thomas are among the tackles the Steelers could target who are playing in the Senior Bowl.

But all of those tackles are likely ones the Steelers would consider after the first round.

Weidl lists cornerback and safety as the Steelers’ biggest needs after offensive tackle.

He also writes that the Steelers could seriously consider taking a rangy wide receiver with their first pick to take pressure off Antonio Brown and complement the Pro Bowler.