There’s a reason that this franchise has been the league’s most successful dating back to the 1970 merger. It’s called continuity and attention to every department. And the thing that jumps out about the Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 draft is how general manager Kevin Colbert addressed nearly every area of the team. This is an organization that does as good of a job developing young talent as well as any organization in the league.

Spreading the wealth

In the first round, the club opted to take a linebacker for the fourth time in five years. In 2013, the choice was Pass Rusher Jarvis Jones.

He didn’t really pan out in four seasons and this offseason signed with the Arizona Cardinals. In 2014, it was inside backer Ryan Shazier, who has emerged as a Pro Bowl performer. One year later, it was pass-rusher Bud Dupree, who showed signs of stardom this past season. Now add rookie T.J. Watt (Wisconsin) to the mix. He’s a raw talent that will need some time to develop but the potential is there. In the second round, the Pittsburgh Steelers added productive wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster (USC). In the third it was both cornerback Cameron Sutton (Tennessee) and local hero/running back James Conner (Pittsburgh). Colbert then opted for a quarterback prospect in Joshua Dobbs (Tennessee), another cornerback in Utah’s Brian Allen, long-snapper Colin Holba (Louisville) and Western Michigan linebacker Keion Adams.

How can they help?

Given the talent level on the current roster, it would be a surprise to see any of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ eight draft choices in the opening lineup come Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns. Sutton could perhaps challenge for a starting role, perhaps in a nickel role, as 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns and Ross Cockrell are the starting corners for now.

Watt will learn behind Dupree and ageless veteran James Harrison, while Smith-Schuster joins superstar Antonio Brown and perhaps the deepest wide-receiving corps in the NFL. A year ago, Burns, safety Sean Davis and nose tackle Javon Hargrave (the Steelers’ first 3 draft choices in 2016) made steady progress and wound up as starters down the stretch.

Could we see something similar this year? The odds of that are somewhat unlikely as Watt still needs some time to develop. Meanwhile, Smith-Schuster could have trouble getting on the field a lot with Brown, Martavis Bryant, Eli Rogers and Sammie Coates in the mix. But look for the Steelers to get their fair share of contributions from their latest rookie class.