Now that we have finished reviewing the NFC North, it's time to move over to the other division that the 49ers will face this upcoming season: the AFC North. Unfortunately for the 49ers, the AFC North looks even stronger than the NFC North (anything can change, though, from season to season and the Cleveland Browns do exist...). Of course, the AFC North looked great for reasons that might not occur again - especially if the teams don't address some glaring issues. Our first team for review is the AFC North champion, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers have dealt with a couple of retirements this offseason, so if anybody knows what 49er fans are feeling this offseason, it's the Steelers. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, they did not suffer such devastating retirements. The surprise was the young Jason Worilds who drew comparisons to Chris Borland. Worilds, who was actually a free agent, was the Steelers' leading pass-rusher last season. Their defense will suffer without him. The more emotional retirement, however, was likely Pittsburgh icon Troy Polamalu. He was absolutely getting up there in age, so his retirement makes sense. Plus, maybe he wanted a haircut.
In terms of free agency, the Steelers have done little more than re-sign their own players. They did sign RB DeAngelo Williams, which brings them nice depth since Le'Veon Bell's injury last season may have been the Steelers' death knell. The Steelers also signed QB Tajh Boyd.
Yet, the Steelers have been active, re-signing a host of players: S Will Allen, CB Antwon Blake, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, DE/OLB James Harrison, TE Matt Spaeth, and ILB Arthur Moats. Will that be sufficient? Probably, if the Steelers can bring in some key players from the draft. But, the Steelers do have some needs (more on that later!).
The Steelers have the Platonic draft - one pick in every round with all of them being their own picks.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Round 2 - Pick 56
Round 3 - Pick 87
Round 4 - Pick 121
Round 5 - Pick 160
Round 6 - Pick 198
Round 6 - Pick 212
Round 7 - Pick 239
The Steelers re-signed a fairly significant portion of their free agency class, which was made up predominately of defensive players. As I mentioned previously in our Steelers review, the defense left some things to be desired last season - in particular the secondary and the LB corps could use upgrades. These upgrades are going to need to come in the form of draft picks.