View Full Version : NFL Draft countdown: Pittsburgh Steelers

04-17-2011, 07:38 AM
NFL Draft countdown: Pittsburgh Steelers
PUBLISHED 20 hours and 57 minutes ago
LAST UPDATED 20 hours and 31 minutes ago
Gerry Dulac Sporting News

1. Cornerback. Even if the team re-signs free agent Ike Taylor at some point this offseason, cornerback is an area of need. Bryant McFadden is a good tackler who needs help over the top, and nickel back William Gay had a bounce-back year after a disastrous debut as a starter in 2009. But there is little depth behind Gay, as Keenan Lewis has not progressed. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau likes physical corners such as Virginia's Ras-I Dowling, but Texas' Aaron Williams has better cover skills and would be a better fit.

2. Guard. The Steelers targeted the guard spot last year when they drafted Maurkice Pouncey in the first round. But instead of moving him to guard, he was kept at center because he was too good there. The Steelers used three different starters at right guard during the regular season, eventually settling on Ramon Foster. Foster is big and strong but lacks the mobility to be an effective pulling guard. The Steelers might have an eye on another Pouncey--twin brother Mike--to play the role they had envisioned for Maurkice. But Pouncey may not fall to the 31st overall pick.

3. Nose tackle. Casey Hampton proved in the postseason that he is still capable of clogging the middle and stuffing the run. But Hampton's backup, Chris Hoke, is 35 and there is nobody to groom as Hampton's replacement. The coaches love Oregon State's Stephen Paea, and he will get much consideration if he's still on the board at No. 31.

4. Wide receiver. This team has a hard time passing up talent at skill positions, especially wide receivers who can help quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers seem to be set at the position with three youngstersMike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brownbut veteran Hines Ward will be entering his 14th season and Antwaan Randle El will likely be released. The team probably won't use its first-rounder on a receiver, but it could still devote an early-round pick to one. Kentucky's Randall Cobb, rated as a likely second-round pick, would ease some of the deep-play pressure on Wallace.

5. Outside linebacker. The team can never have enough linebackers because it is the most important position in the 3-4 defense. Pittsburgh drafted two last yearJason Worilds and Thaddeus Gibsonbut Gibson was waived. That left the team without a quality backup behind LaMarr Woodley. The team has had success converting defensive ends into outside linebackers, but it is unlikely they will draft one in the first round. Pitt's Jabaal Sheard could be a possibility in Round 2. The coaches love UCLA's Akeem Ayers because he can play inside or outside, but they don't think he'll be available at pick No. 31.

6. Running back. Rashard Mendenhall had the bulk of the rushing attempts last season, carrying 324 times. After wearing out former starter Willie Parker in three years, the Steelers don't want to do the same to Mendenhall. Isaac Redman is a nice backup, but the Steelers need another back to spell Mendenhall. Jonathan Dwyer, a sixth-round pick in 2010, could be the answer, but he needs to get a better handle on the playbook. Drafting a big-play threat such as Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter in the third round would provide a great change of pace.

Considering the Steelers historically draft near the bottom of the first round, they have done a great job hitting home runs with their top picks. Since 2006, every first-rounder has developed into a starter, although wide receiver Santonio Holmes (2006) was traded before last season. The Steelers have drafted just one Pro Bowler in the past five years. That was center Maurkice Pouncey, the first-round pick from the 2010 class that produced seven other rookies who made the 53-man roster.

Former first-rounders in running back Rashard Mendenhall (2008) and defensive end Ziggy Hood (2009) have proved their worth. The only downside to the Steelers' last five drafts is Round 4. Many of the team's fourth-rounders have been busts, with the exception of right tackle Willie Colon in 2006.

Should the team take a cornerback with its first pick?

FS Ryan Clark: "I think a lot of that goes with what happens with Ike (Taylor, a free agent). ... That's a very important position. Getting him back and adding depth behind him is important. If not, we definitely need a top corner, and finding someone who can come in and play right away is hard to find in the draft."

Read more: http://aol.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2011-04-16/nfl-draft-countdown-pittsburgh-steelers#ixzz1JmdCVda1

04-18-2011, 12:50 PM
I normally don't have an issue with Dulac and his reporting, but I'm just astounded that people think there is a huge need at OG and make no mention of OT. We have about 10 players with OG experience and Legursky has shown something, IMO, the coaches didn't realize he had. However, there is almost no depth at OT and I wasn't too happy with Scott. If Starks and Colon doesn't come back 100%, who feels good about our backups? So I think OT is the top need, CB next. I don't disagree with OLB being on the list, but am more concerned with ILB.