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Pittsburgh Steelers: 2014 NFL season key additions

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 28: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 28, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens won, 22-20.
BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 28: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 28, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens won, 22-20.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers could not seem to get balance on offense in 2013. They have been known for their smash mouth, grind it out, hit you in the mouth first mentality for decades. The combination of the offensive line not being consistent and a new offensive system run by offensive coordinator Todd Haley may have gotten them off track. Head coach Mike Tomlin and his fiery personality compliments what the Steelers are about and a return to that rugged style of play may be just what is needed to get them back to the top of their AFC North division. Ben Roethlisberger is still capable of leading the offense to wins with his arm, but an improved running game would take pressure off of him to have to pass it 30-40 times a game.

The defense seems to be going through a youth movement and needs to upgrade their overall speed. Veterans LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith, and Ryan Clark have all moved on the last couple of years. The young replacements need to produce for the Steelers to maintain being one of the best defenses in the NFL. I would not bet against Dick Lambeau, one of the best defensive coordinators of all-time, to get the youngsters in positions to have success. Overall, If Pittsburgh finds their power run game and the defense ranks in the top ten they should be in the hunt come playoff time. Look below at key additions that could help Pittsburgh return to the playoffs.

Ryan Shazier - linebacker
Ryan Shazier - linebacker Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Ryan Shazier - linebacker

Ryan Shazier was selected as the Steelers 2014 first round draft pick. He brings athleticism and sideline to sideline speed to the linebacker's unit. The Steelers wanted to upgrade their overall speed on defense and drafting Shazier should help immediately. He has the skill set to drop in coverage and cover tight ends or running backs. He needs to add strength if he plays middle linebacker to be better equipped at shedding blocks. He has great range and would be ideal playing in a cover 2 scheme with his speed to drop in coverage.

Stephon Tuitt - defensive end
Stephon Tuitt - defensive end Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Stephon Tuitt - defensive end

Stephon Tuitt has the ideal size and length to be effective at the five technique defensive end position in a 3-4 scheme. He had a sensational sophomore season at Notre Dame, but was inconsistent his junior season. If he plays up to his potential of that sophomore season the Steelers have a star in the making. Excellent quickness for a player his size. Tuitt can provide adequate pass rush inside and can also bring pressure off the edge if lined up at defensive end. If he stays focused and discipline while challenging himself to be great the Steelers have something special.

Dri Archer - running back
Dri Archer - running back Elsa/Getty Images

Dri Archer - running back

Dri Archer will add an element to the Steelers offensive backfield since Willie Parker was wearing the black and gold. and that is speed. He should compliment the power run game of Le'Veon Bell with his lightning in a bottle talents. Archer should also give the return game a spark with his excellent burst and vision to get through holes quickly. He is not an every down running back because of his size and lack of bulk, but will be a nice change of pace player to put pressure on defenses.

Mike Mitchell - safety
Mike Mitchell - safety Al Bello/Getty Images

Mike Mitchell - safety

Mike Mitchell brings veteran experience to the back end of the defense. He was signed away from the Carolina Panthers in free agency. He had his best season of his career in 2013 recording 67 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 4 interceptions. He adds a little more quickness and range to the free safety position which should allow strong safety Troy Polamalu to attack the line of scrimmage more. Mitchell's presence should allow the corner backs to be more aggressive in their coverage.