For more reasons than one, this was a critical draft for Pittsburgh.
The team — coming off a disappointing 8-8 finish short of the postseason — can't afford to rebuild. No way. Not with its franchise quarterback rapidly approaching the end of his prime.
Does Ben Roethlisberger have a few good years still in front of him? Probably. But an ACL tear or Tommy John surgery later, and this team will have its Super Bowl window slammed shut.
The key to the draft for Pittsburgh was finding immediate contributors. While some positions are undoubtedly locked up (think quarterback, center, inside linebacker, etc.), others are wide open.
With their first four picks, the Steelers addressed four positions: linebacker Jarvis Jones; running back Le'Veon Bell; wide receiver Markus Wheaton; and safety Shamarko Thomas.
Could Jarvis Jones step in and replace James Harrison? Probably not right away — but given Pittsburgh's alternatives, would you blame them for trying? Bell is especially intriguing as a big pass-catching back in Todd Haley's offensive scheme.
For the first time in years, the offensive line may be in better shape than its skill position component. This isn't as bad as it sounds: A better line should mean better protection for Ben and a stable ground game. Both Roethlisberger's health and a balanced offense are crucial to the Steelers' success this season.
By drafting solid players in positions of need, Pittsburgh's management team proved that the team is committed to winning sooner rather than later.
(Sunday editor Bruce J. Siwy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BruceJSiwy.)