Steelers Notebook: Team likely to look at cornerback early in draft
Saturday, February 26, 2011
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
INDIANAPOLIS -- Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said the three deepest positions in the NFL draft are cornerback, offensive tackle and wide receiver, which means the Steelers "can get quality at those positions" in the first three rounds.
Of the three, cornerback is the area the Steelers most likely will target in those rounds, especially the first. And Colbert said there are more good corners because so many teams in college football run the spread offense.
"Spread offenses are going to be countered with, for lack of a better term, spread defenses, which is three down linemen and five linebackers or three linebackers and two hybrid linebackers/safeties and the secondary. So there's more defensive back types," Colbert said at the NFL Scouting Combine.
The Steelers had to play a lot of nickel and dime defensive packages late in the regular season and postseason, especially in the Super Bowl against quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' four-wide receiver sets. The Packers repeatedly picked on cornerback Bryant McFadden and also threw to wide receiver Greg Jennings whenever he lined in the slot away from Ike Taylor.
"You're going to be in nickel or dime more now and going forward, I'm sure, than we were in the past.
"You're only going to be able to dress four or five corners, so you've got to hope that they're quality and can help you win. You're not going to change the makeup of your team drastically, other than to get the best players that you can."
Several other Steelers players have had surgery since the end of the season, including defensive end Nick Eason (ankle) and guard Trai Essex (ankle).
But, as of right now, one of those not scheduled to have surgery is center Maurkice Pouncey, who missed the Super Bowl with a high ankle sprain and a broken bone in his ankle. Pouncey is healing on schedule and doing well.
Eason and Essex join wide receiver Hines Ward (thumb, knee), outside linebacker James Harrison (back) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) as players who had surgery after Super Bowl XLV.
Believe it or not, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not lead the NFL in holding the ball too long and creating a sack in 2010.
According to a report on nflfanhouse.com, Baltimore's Joe Flacco was the king of all NFL quarterbacks for holding the ball a long time, with 25 of his 40 sacks coming when he held the ball for 3.1 seconds or more. That was five more than Roethlisberger (20), who was second.
That, though, was fine by Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who called the report "interesting."
"Joe's the kind of guy that can make plays by being creative; that's something we really want him to do," Harbaugh said. "I think Joe's capable of being a creative playmaker quarterback, moving around in the pocket, shrugging off guys. He's a big, strong guy. He's only going to get stronger.
"He's way more athletic than what you think. He made more of those plays down the stretch. I want to encourage him to make those plays. There's nothing wrong with the way Ben Roethlisberger plays, or Aaron Rodgers. One thing I think we can do is help him a little bit offensively.
"I don't think we've been a great quick game-type of a team in the last three years with Joe. So, we build that quick game in there a little bit and then obviously the release time is going to be a little bit faster because of the nature of the offense and that will help those numbers."
Calling the shots
Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said he still hasn't decided if he will call the offensive plays next season, even though he promoted Mike Miller from passing-game coordinator to offensive coordinator.
Miller, a 1988 graduate of Plum High School, attended Clarion University and earned a masters degree in education from Robert Morris. He was once a public relations intern with the Steelers and Penguins.
The only year Whisenhunt didn't call the offensive plays was in 2008 when Todd Haley was the offensive coordinator and the Cardinals went to the Super Bowl.
"It's something I think I've done well for a number of years and I enjoy doing it," Whisenhunt said. "I'm torn between doing what I know I should, as far as letting other guys do it, and what I want to do, which is call the plays. The best way to say it is, to be determined."
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