View Full Version : Draft Preview: 32. Pittsburgh Steelers

04-15-2009, 10:24 PM
Draft Preview: 32. Pittsburgh Steelers

We're back at it, and finally in the first round. Here's a look at team number four of our 32-team journey through the draft. For insight on the Pittsburgh Steelers, I caught up with Frank "drinkyourmilkshake" Mineo from Behind the Steel Curtain.

Give me three or four of the team's top positional needs.

The top positions of need for Pittsburgh in the 2009 draft are offensive line, defensive line, cornerback, and possibly wide receiver. Although the Steelers have kept the same starting offensive line that won them their sixth Super Bowl they need players to compete for starting jobs and also need players to provide depth to the unit.

The defensive line is in need of some youth infusion considering all three starters going into this season are over the age of 30 and two of the three are in the final year of their contracts heading into the season. The Steelers need players at both defensive tackle and defensive end, and are definitely hoping that they can find someone in the draft that can play during their rookie season and help minimize the wear and tear on the veteran starters .

The only starter not returning to the Super Bowl team is cornerback Bryant McFadden, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals this offseason. The Steelers expect 2007 fifth-round draft pick William Gay to start opposite Ike Taylor at corner, but need to find someone who can assist on the nickel and dime packages along with veterans Deshea Townsend and Fernando Bryant.

Nate Washington finally had a breakout season for the Steelers last season, but he left in free agency for the Titans. The only reason the Steelers are not desperate at receiver is because they drafted Limas Sweed in the second round last season. Sweed’s rookie season was very unspectacular, but big things are expected of him from the coaches and front office. Since Pittsburgh decided to pass on Joey Galloway and other veteran receivers [in free agency] I would look for the Steelers to try and draft another receiver that can compete with Sweed and Martin Nance for the third wide receiver position.

Any specific players you want them to target?

Pittsburgh has only brought in three players for official visits that would be considered potential first-round draft picks; Fil Moala, a defensive end from USC, Phil Loadholt, an offensive tackle from Alabama, and Alex Mack, a centre from Cal. The player that seems to be getting the most attention is Mack who would immediately upgrade the line and would compete for a spot at guard during his rookie season. My personal feeling is Pittsburgh is waiting to see what happens on April 25. Last season Rashard Mendenhall fell into their laps even though he wasn’t someone they had heavily targeted prior to the draft. The Steelers are again in a position to draft whomever they feel is truly the best player available. The only positions the Steelers would absolutely stay away from in the first round would be quarterback, running back, and tight end.

In the later rounds some players that the Steelers appear interested in are A.Q. Shipley, the undersized but nasty center from Penn State, Frank Summers a bruising FB/RB who can also catch the ball out of the backfield, Sammie Lee Hill a raw defensive tackle prospect from Stillman College, Mike Thomas, a speedy wide out from Arizona, and Sherrod Martin, a corner from Troy who may have to convert to safety at the next level.

Do you see them moving up or down?

I can see the Steelers possibly making a move up in the draft; they have done so in previous years with great success for players like Casey Hampton, Troy Polamalu, and Santonio Holmes. The Steelers have nine picks in this year's draft and have very few roster spots available since they are returning all but one starter from the Super Bowl team. Trading up would make a lot of sense since they are in need of quality, not quantity. If an elite offensive or defensive lineman starts to slide, I could see the Steelers trying to make a move up, and I could also see them looking to trade up a few spots for a cornerback or safety that they feel is exceptional.

As far as what I would like to see happen, I am open to the possibilities of trading up or down as long as we get good value for the trade and are able to get a player or two who can have an impact this season. The Steelers had little to no impact from their rookie draft class last season, so Pittsburgh will have a lot of young players to compete and challenge for roster spots. Pittsburgh has 11 players who are under contract only through the end of the 2009 season and, realistically, they will be unable to sign all of them, so this draft and last year's draft are very important to the Steelers’ long term success.

Filed under: Pittsburgh Steelers, 2009 NFL Draft