View Full Version : Offensive line, cornerback early targets for Steelers

04-22-2010, 07:14 AM
Offensive line, cornerback early targets for Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had the most tumultuous offseason in team history. There's been so much going on with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the trade of wide receiver Santonio Holmes that some people might have forgotten there's a little thing called the NFL draft happening this weekend.

The draft, expanded to three days this year, begins tonight with Round 1. Rounds 2 and 3 will be Friday night, with the final four rounds Saturday.

The delay between rounds could turn this year's draft into a trading free-for-all. Teams will have extra time to work out deals to acquire players passed over the previous day.

Expect the Steelers to be one of those teams moving on the draft board.

Even after sending a seventh-round pick to Tampa Bay for quarterback Byron Leftwich, the Steelers still hold 10 selections, including four in the fifth round. It would be a major surprise if Pittsburgh makes all 10 selections.

Instead, look for the Steelers to target the players they want and be aggressive in making the moves necessary to acquire them.

That might not happen in the first round, but it certainly could on the second and third days.

With the announcement of Roethlisberger's six-game suspension - which could be shortened to four games if he meets the league's requirements - on Wednesday for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, the Steelers now know the challenge that lies before them. They'll play at least the first quarter of the schedule without their starting quarterback.

Because of that, expect them to react accordingly and try to improve the running game in this draft. That doesn't mean they'll take a running back in the first round. Rashard Mendenhall showed last season that he's capable of being the primary ball-carrier.

The Steelers will address the running game by improving their offensive line, adding a first-round pick to the group for the first time since selecting guard Kendall Simmons in 2002.

With Roethlisberger's suspension to open the season looming large, the Steelers will want someone who's ready to contribute right away.

That player is Florida's Maurkice Pouncey.

A three-year starter at guard and center for the Gators, Pouncey is more NFL-ready than the other top-rated interior offensive linemen, Idaho guard Mike Iupati.

The Steelers could play Pouncey at right guard - moving Trai Essex to the top backup at tackle and guard - or at center, where he would replacing Justin Hartwig.

The only thing that could change the Steelers' thinking is if a top-flight defensive back slips to the 18th pick. If Joe Haden of Florida, Kyle Wilson of Boise State or Earl Thomas of Texas are still available, Pittsburgh will have a difficult decision to make.

The secondary was a problem spot last year, as the Steelers slipped to 16th in the league against the pass. Cornerback Ike Taylor is an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2010 season.

The Steelers, however, selected cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett last year, and they are still high on both players. That's why the safer selection is Pouncey. The Steelers can then attempt to trade up in the second round to grab one of the second-tier cornerbacks, Kareem Robinson of Alabama, Brandon Ghee of Wake Forest and Patrick Robinson of Florida State.

If they come out of the first two rounds with Pouncey and one of the cornerbacks, then they've taken a big step toward improving the team for years to come.

F. Dale Lolley can be reached at dlolley@observer-reporter.com

04-22-2010, 08:03 AM
It would be nice if the article got the names right. Its Kareem Jackson out of bama

04-22-2010, 04:45 PM
It would be nice if the article got the names right. Its Kareem Jackson out of bama

:toofunny: how pathetic...the dude is writing about the prospects and he can even spell their names right!!!!!!! how pathetic:rofl: