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lamberts-lost-tooth
04-30-2008, 04:16 AM
After the draft: Bigger problem with lines may not turn up until '09
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


As accolades for the Steelers' draft over the weekend roll in, one nagging question remained, the kind an old woman on an old television ad might ask:

"Where's the beef?"

On Jan. 10, coach Mike Tomlin talked about a need to improve his offensive and defensive lines.

"We need to strengthen ourselves in our lines, of course," he said. "If I could identify anything at this point, I would say we need young, big people."

Later in that news conference, Tomlin added:

"I talked about offensive and defensive lines earlier in terms of our focus. Because you always need big, strong men in the interior on the rise. We're older in those positions. We are. That will be our intentions, along with all areas, of course. But in terms of having the personality that we want to have, there is no secret that we want to run the football and run it big time. We want to smash the run so it starts inside and up front."

Instead of strictly trying to plug needs, the Steelers took the course -- the correct one, most in the organization believe -- that they would draft the players they had rated highest on their board when it was their turn.

That philosophy yielded such gems as tailback Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois in the first round and Texas wide receiver Limas Sweed on the second, two players they had rated much higher than the 23rd and 53rd picks. They also filled needs by drafting them and others, such as outside linebacker Bruce Davis in the third round.

But of their seven selections, they drafted only one lineman, an offensive tackle in the fourth round, 6-foot-4, 304-pound Tony Hills of Texas, and no defensive lineman.

As Kevin Colbert, the director of football operations, said: "You just can't get everybody. It is impossible in any one year to address the entire team. There's going to be positions you don't draft."

The Steelers signed two undersized defensive tackles as rookie free agents Monday, but as Tomlin said, "Those are tough animals to sign after the draft."

So, where does that leave their two lines?

They still have a strong starting line for a 3-4 defense with ends Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel and nose tackle Casey Hampton. But those three and their top three backups all will range between 30 and 34 years old by September, including ends Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason and nose tackle Chris Hoke. Kirschke and Eason re-signed after their contracts expired this year.

"It's one of the reasons we were happy to sign Travis and Nick prior to the draft," Tomlin said, "so we wouldn't put ourselves into a position where we felt like we needed to reach."

The Steelers will monitor other teams' cuts through training camp to see if anyone might be worth adding to the defensive line. They had hoped to get a younger player to work in, particularly at end. They also have Ryan McBean, a fourth-round pick last season, on their roster at end, but he's still using crutches, the result of a stress fracture in his foot in the offseason.

The Steelers did add two players to the offensive line in Hills and veteran free-agent center Justin Hartwig, but it also lost seven-time Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca. Hartwig will challenge Sean Mahan at center, and Chris Kemoeatu will replace Faneca. Marvel Smith should be healthier next season after back surgery. Kendall Simmons returns at right guard.

It also appears that Willie Colon will stay at right tackle, where he knocked Max Starks out of his two-year job as a starter last summer. The Steelers thought so much of Starks that they signed him to a guaranteed, one-year $6.9 million contract, fueling speculation he will get his old job back.

"Right now, Willie is the right tackle," line coach Larry Zierlein declared. "Max will get an opportunity to compete."

Zierlein saved his highest praise for Kemoeatu, a 6-3, 344-pounder drafted in the sixth round in 2005 who nearly bumped Simmons from right guard last summer.

"I'll tell you what, I have a lot of confidence in that guy," Zierlein said. "Aside from the physical thing, he's a big kid. He was ready to play last year. He was ready, and Kendall kind of won the thing, but it was close. When we came out of training camp, preseason games, the grades were close.

"But this kid is ready to play. The thing that I told him the other day, 'It's obvious to me, when you see blitzes, you understand it all. Just become a little more verbal.' "

Zierlein changed some blocking techniques for the line in his first season as coach in 2007. It was a season in which Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 47 times, second most for a quarterback in Steelers history. Having experienced a year of those changes should make the line better for it in 2008, he said.

The problem facing the Steelers might not be immediate, but in '09 as the defensive line continues to age much of the offensive line could disappear. Smith, Starks, veteran backup tackle Trai Essex and Kemoeatu all have contracts that expire after '08.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08121/877688-66.stm

Galax Steeler
04-30-2008, 04:44 AM
I just don't understand how hartwig will have to battle mahan for the center position it should be hartwigs job without a battle.

TackleMeBen
04-30-2008, 07:38 AM
if mahan is the center again.. i hope that ben spends his new 102 million on lots of pain killers and a great medical staff, b/c he will be needing both.

Aussie_steeler
04-30-2008, 08:25 AM
2009 draft will need to address DE, OT and C (unless legursky is a hidden gem) to find starters for 2010. I also think a CB will also need to be taken.

The more I look at the current roster the more I see the potential for a rarity in Steelers football, trading a player for a solid draft pick. We cant keep loading up in certain positions ( RB, possibly WR?? and maybe guard) and hope to keep them all happy with playing times and dollars.

I know the steelers rarely do it but it may become a necessity to get some value for the talent that they have developed. A good year from Gary Russell, Nate Washington and maybe Batch or Foote could attract interest. Plus a compensation pick from Faneca, it would be nice to have extra picks in round 3 or 4 to address the needs.

As you can see I am having trouble winding down from draft mode.

Atlanta Dan
04-30-2008, 08:33 AM
By not wanting to make any potential reaches in the draft at OL or DL this year the Steelers apparently have guaranteed that reaches will need to be done in 2009 unless quality linemen fall into the Steelers lap.

Assuming the Steelers do not win the SB, the murderous schedule at least should result in a better position in the draft - even if the team is better the record presumably will not be.

El-Gonzo Jackson
04-30-2008, 08:40 AM
This is what I have been saying all along. The problem is not with our O line this season, but what happens next season when possibly 3 starters in Smith, Starks, Kemo become free agents.

On the bright side, I just saw a mock draft for 09 on CNNSI and they dont even have a center projected in the 1st round, which could suggest that Cal center Alex Mack would be available if needed.

The Duke
04-30-2008, 09:03 AM
I just don't understand how hartwig will have to battle mahan for the center position it should be hartwigs job without a battle.

because nothing in life is free :tap:

don't worry, hartwig will get it, as long as he's healthy he can be average a least, and mahan wasn't even average

tony hipchest
04-30-2008, 09:35 AM
i wonder how simmons feels hearing he almost lost his job. good thing that wont be the case this year.

him, starks, and mahan on the bench is a huge chunk of cap going to waste.

TackleMeBen
04-30-2008, 09:45 AM
i wonder how simmons feels hearing he almost lost his job. good thing that wont be the case this year.

him, starks, and mahan on the bench is a huge chunk of cap going to waste.
we can always get one of them to fill in as steeley???:sofunny:

The_WARDen
04-30-2008, 10:25 AM
it can get worse???!!!

:jawdrop:

but hey, they drafted another RB with a #1 pick and got some more LBs...great job guys!

rbryan
04-30-2008, 10:32 AM
2009 draft will need to address DE, OT and C (unless legursky is a hidden gem) to find starters for 2010. I also think a CB will also need to be taken.

The more I look at the current roster the more I see the potential for a rarity in Steelers football, trading a player for a solid draft pick. We cant keep loading up in certain positions ( RB, possibly WR?? and maybe guard) and hope to keep them all happy with playing times and dollars.

I know the steelers rarely do it but it may become a necessity to get some value for the talent that they have developed. A good year from Gary Russell, Nate Washington and maybe Batch or Foote could attract interest. Plus a compensation pick from Faneca, it would be nice to have extra picks in round 3 or 4 to address the needs.

As you can see I am having trouble winding down from draft mode.

I was wondering about that. Shouldn't we have gotten an extra pick this year for losing Faneca? Can someone refresh my memory on how that works again....Thanks

stlrtruck
04-30-2008, 12:00 PM
I was wondering about that. Shouldn't we have gotten an extra pick this year for losing Faneca? Can someone refresh my memory on how that works again....Thanks

I believe Faneca's contract was up so there was no picks.

revefsreleets
04-30-2008, 12:07 PM
We have talent being developed along the OL, and there is always FA. Essex, Colon, Hills, and Kemo are all young. It's not unreasonable to think the Steelers will pay some cash to keep performers (I'm thinking Starks here). I wouldn't hit the panic button just yet.

Hammer Of The GODS
04-30-2008, 12:49 PM
We have talent being developed along the OL, and there is always FA. Essex, Colon, Hills, and Kemo are all young. It's not unreasonable to think the Steelers will pay some cash to keep performers (I'm thinking Starks here). I wouldn't hit the panic button just yet.

Agreed. Despite what we fans want or think, we don't really know what goes on behind the scenes. There is next years free agency, the development of rookies and 2nd stringers, and next years draft. I don't believe we need to panic yet. Granted they seem to be riding the razors edge. The age and ending contracts of both sides of the line IS a major concern. I feel pretty good about this years draft though. I feel they picked best available instead of reaching for a need. I have every confidence that the FO and the whole Steelers organization will do what it takes to remain competitive. I wake up every day thankful that I was born in STEELER COUNTRY! Things could be far worse! You could wake up and look in the mirror and see a Lions fan lookin back at you! Those poor bastards have nothing to live for! Unlike the Rooneys, the Ford family could care less about thier team. Evidence of that is allowing Matt Millen to remain employed.

GO BURGH!

PENS LEAD SERIES 3-0

lilyoder6
04-30-2008, 01:11 PM
when u lose ppl in FA u have to wait a yr until u get the compensation pick to see how the player did to see if u received a 3rd, 4th 5,th or higher pick.. u have to waiut and see if we get one...

tony hipchest
04-30-2008, 01:15 PM
I was wondering about that. Shouldn't we have gotten an extra pick this year for losing Faneca? Can someone refresh my memory on how that works again....Thankshow faneca plays this year (assumedly good), how much cash he got (lots), and who the steelers replace him with (nobody out of house = FA), will help determine what draft pick we get next year (3rd).

if we lose a player to FA and replace him with a better expensive replacement we get nothing.

for instance the pats received nothing for losing tully banta cain, because they replaced him with the expensive and productive adalius thomas.

BozMan
04-30-2008, 01:29 PM
If we pay Max Starks ~$7 million to ride the pine this upcoming season, that is just plain ridiculous. Talk about a waste of money.

Atlanta Dan
04-30-2008, 01:31 PM
We have talent being developed along the OL, and there is always FA. Essex, Colon, Hills, and Kemo are all young. It's not unreasonable to think the Steelers will pay some cash to keep performers (I'm thinking Starks here). I wouldn't hit the panic button just yet.

Agreed they will keep Starks or Marvel. If Starks sits this season it is hard to see how they will be able to assess his suitability for what I assume would be the LT position next season - paying Starks that sort of $$ as a bench player for 2008 just to keep options open for 2009 would be puzzling.

steelreserve
04-30-2008, 01:37 PM
So we need to draft one or two guys next year, or sign them as free agents. Big deal.

MasterOfPuppets
04-30-2008, 02:22 PM
Agreed they will keep Starks or Marvel. If Starks sits this season it is hard to see how they will be able to assess his suitability for what I assume would be the LT position next season - paying Starks that sort of $$ as a bench player for 2008 just to keep options open for 2009 would be puzzling.

and if he does play, and plays well....somebody other than the steelers, will back the money truck up to him, and its adios max.....:popcorn:

Atlanta Dan
04-30-2008, 03:26 PM
and if he does play, and plays well....somebody other than the steelers, will back the money truck up to him, and its adios max.....:popcorn:

And if they slap the franchise tag on Starks for 2009 it will cost them - let's hope Smith's back probelms are fixed (although I doubt that)

BlastFurnace
04-30-2008, 03:37 PM
By not wanting to make any potential reaches in the draft at OL or DL this year the Steelers apparently have guaranteed that reaches will need to be done in 2009 unless quality linemen fall into the Steelers lap.

Assuming the Steelers do not win the SB, the murderous schedule at least should result in a better position in the draft - even if the team is better the record presumably will not be.

OL and DL have been ignored far too long. They would have reached this year...that is true...but all they are doing is covering up the big stain on the carpet with an area rug. The stain is still there and it will eventually need to be addressed with "reaches" in the draft or FA.

We just better hope Ben is in one piece after the season is over because the defensive strategy teams were using at the end of the year this season will be repeated all season long next season.

Preacher
04-30-2008, 03:49 PM
And if they slap the franchise tag on Starks for 2009 it will cost them - let's hope Smith's back probelms are fixed (although I doubt that)

However, I could see them slapping hte franchise tag on him... and the coming to contract with him.

its an option!?

Atlanta Dan
04-30-2008, 04:20 PM
However, I could see them slapping hte franchise tag on him... and the coming to contract with him.

its an option!?

True - but if you franchise someone they get top 5 pay for their position - that would be a hell of a cap hit for an OL in this market.

But to get back to your analogy with the furnace (analogies are so much more fun to use than facts :sofunny:), through the last several years the furnace has been acting up and the Steelers did not put any major draft resources into making repairs.

Next year the furnace may go out - when it goes you do not have the luxury of waiting to call the repairman to avoid paying emergency repair rates or waiting for furnaces to go on sale. Instead, you pay whatever it costs. Seems to me the 2009 OL may be the equivalent of the furnace going out - the consequrences of deferring maintenance can be harsh.

TackleMeBen
04-30-2008, 04:25 PM
True - but if you franchise someone they get top 5 pay for their position - that would be a hell of a cap hit for an OL in this market.

But to get back to your analogy with the furnace (analogies are so much more fun to use than facts :sofunny:), through the last several years the furnace has been acting up and the Steelers did not put any major draft resources into making repairs.

Next year the furnace may go out - when it goes you do not have the luxury of waiting to call the repairman to avoid paying emergency repair rates or waiting for furnaces to go on sale. Instead, you pay whatever it costs. Seems to me the 2009 OL may be the equivalent of the furnace going out - the consequrences of deferring maintenance can be harsh.
that is a very good way putting it.

srk173
04-30-2008, 04:36 PM
Be a steelers fan, not a clowns or bungles fan. Believe in what the team does. They know what is going on and send up smoke screens that work to their hand every time. When the smoke screens dont work, they trade up to get who they want. Examples are Ben, Troy, and Santonio. It was not a coincidence that teams traded up over pitts to get lineman. They wanted a run so someone could slip into their lap. Then they got the best available player in the first two rounds and filled depth with the rest. They then took a chance with a 5th rounder. Seriously who makes the team as a 5th or later pick that doesnt go through the practice squad lately. Start being fans and not haters of your own so called team. If you dont like what the black and gold is doing then dont wear it. You guys got me fing pissed and on the chip.

rbryan
04-30-2008, 04:37 PM
how faneca plays this year (assumedly good), how much cash he got (lots), and who the steelers replace him with (nobody out of house = FA), will help determine what draft pick we get next year (3rd).

if we lose a player to FA and replace him with a better expensive replacement we get nothing.

for instance the pats received nothing for losing tully banta cain, because they replaced him with the expensive and productive adalius thomas.

Thanks for the 411. I didn't remember there being so many variables. Heres to hoping Faneca plays well for the Jets. Maybe we can use the extra pick for another QB.

TackleMeBen
04-30-2008, 04:39 PM
Thanks for the 411. I didn't remember there being so many variables. Heres to hoping Faneca plays well for the Jets. Maybe we can use the extra pick for another QB.
yes since we so deseparately need one..:chuckle:lol

Atlanta Dan
04-30-2008, 04:52 PM
Be a steelers fan, not a clowns or bungles fan. Believe in what the team does. They know what is going on and send up smoke screens that work to their hand every time. When the smoke screens dont work, they trade up to get who they want. Examples are Ben, Troy, and Santonio. It was not a coincidence that teams traded up over pitts to get lineman. They wanted a run so someone could slip into their lap. Then they got the best available player in the first two rounds and filled depth with the rest. They then took a chance with a 5th rounder. Seriously who makes the team as a 5th or later pick that doesnt go through the practice squad lately. Start being fans and not haters of your own so called team. If you dont like what the black and gold is doing then dont wear it. You guys got me fing pissed and on the chip.

So have no doubts and just have faith the correct answer to every question is WWTD (What Would Tomlin Do)?

Atlanta Dan
04-30-2008, 04:55 PM
Thanks for the 411. I didn't remember there being so many variables. Heres to hoping Faneca plays well for the Jets. Maybe we can use the extra pick for another QB.

Let's hope Faneca's performance brings us a good pick - you can never have enough depth at OLB and I understand Colbert believes 2009 will be the deepest draft for kickers and long snappers in decades

Hypocycloid
04-30-2008, 06:31 PM
Let's hope Faneca's performance brings us a good pick - you can never have enough depth at OLB and I understand Colbert believes 2009 will be the deepest draft for kickers and long snappers in decades


I found and article online somewhere where someone broke down the compensatory pick formula. Kinda confusing. I think the compensatory pick is awarded on many criteria including the number of plays and what the player was paid with the team he left. I will try to find the article.

Hypocycloid
04-30-2008, 06:36 PM
Nope you are right Atlanta Dan, it is the new contract and performance in the new year. Here is the article:

http://sportsnewssouthwest.com/nfl/projecting-the-2008-nfl-compensatory-picks.html

Hypocycloid
04-30-2008, 06:56 PM
I don't know what the guys formula is and don't know all of the contract numbers but I think we should get an additional 3rd next year.

from Yahoo:
PLAYERS LOST
• G Alan Faneca: UFA Jets; $40M/5 yrs, $21M guaranteed.
• LB Clark Haggans: UFA Cardinals; $1.5M/1 yr, SB unknown.
• QB Brian St. Pierre: UFA Cardinals; 1 yr, terms unknown.

Players Aquired:
• LB Keyaron Fox: UFA Chiefs; $645,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.
• C Justin Hartwig: FA Panthers; $3.725M/2 yrs, $975,000 SB.
• RB Mewelde Moore: UFA Vikings; $4.95M/3 yrs, $1.35M SB.


Other UFA:
Marquis Cooper
Verron Haynes
Dan Kreider


Just going off value. Faneca would be a 3rd round pick.
The Moore and Hartwig signing would cancel out the St. Pierre and Haggans losses. The other three players that are UFA's wouldn't be signed for enough to qualify so I think we can ignore them. Unless the Steelers qualify for one of the 7th round (filling out the compensatory pick quota), I see them only as getting a 3rd rounder.

I didn't work at this too hard so perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps someone else would disagree with my assessment.

Aussie_steeler
05-01-2008, 06:04 AM
This is what I have been saying all along. The problem is not with our O line this season, but what happens next season when possibly 3 starters in Smith, Starks, Kemo become free agents.

On the bright side, I just saw a mock draft for 09 on CNNSI and they dont even have a center projected in the 1st round, which could suggest that Cal center Alex Mack would be available if needed.

CHeck out this link El-gonzo. # 22 is the highest projection I can find.
http://walterfootball.com/draft2009.php

revefsreleets
05-01-2008, 09:09 AM
There are two schools of thought on this around the NFL. "The Eagles Way" (which the Steelers have ascribed to in the past) is to draft against anticipated FA departures for the following year, and the "One year at a time" way. To clarify, if the Eagles have, say a TE who they anticipate is going to have big numbers in his last contract year, they will draft a TE to replace him for the following season, essentially conceding that they won't be willing or able to match the hefty cash another team with a need at the position is willing to pay. At the end of the season, if everything goes according to plan, the TE takes the money and runs and they already have his replacement groomed. A lot of teams do it, but IMHO the Eagles are the best at it.

We deviated from that this year. It's way too early to see how this will affect us in '09, but it's also important to note that not even the teams who are the very best at this strategy are able to do it for every position every year.