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Old 04-24-2011, 01:48 PM   #1
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Default NFL Draft: Plenty of depth at quarterback and defensive line

NFL Draft: Plenty of depth at quarterback and defensive line
Sunday, April 24, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Will Rogers and Kevin Colbert can be compared: The great humorist never met a man he didn't like, the Steelers director of football operations never met an NFL draft he didn't like. And Colbert adheres to a bit of Rogers' wisdom: "Never miss a good chance to shut up."

Colbert is liking the 2011 draft class, even though the Steelers are way down there at No. 31 in each of the seven rounds. But he won't talk about the players available.

The only prospect he has mentioned is Florida guard-center Mike Pouncey, calling him "identical" to twin brother Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers center. The closest Colbert will come to sharing his analysis of this week's draft is to identify its strengths:

"Offensive line, tackles, defensive line is good," Colbert said. "Wide receivers are deep, corners are deep. I think those four positions are the deepest."

That's good news for the Steelers because those are their top areas of need. The draft starts with one round Thursday (8 p.m.), continues with rounds two and three Friday (6 p.m.) and concludes with the rest Saturday (10 a.m.).
The Post-Gazette's coverage:

Rob Rang is not so bashful and, as senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, is more than willing to share his views, even on individual prospects.

"I think it's an above average draft, and the biggest reasons for that are the rare talent and depth at quarterback and defensive line," Rang said. "Certainly, it would have improved had [Stanford's] Andrew Luck come out, but, as it stands now, I think Cam Newton will be the No. 1 pick in this draft, and that's testimony to the talent and depth at the position. There may very easily wind up being seven or eight quarterbacks drafted by the end of the third round, and there's never been eight quarterbacks taken by the end of the third round."

The depth on the defensive line, and how available it will be to the Steelers, might come into question because of the competition for it.

"It's interesting because we're seeing so many teams that are moving to a 3-4 scheme, which Pittsburgh's been using so long. It's kind of unique in that a 3-4 defense requires a different kind of player than a 4-3 defense. There's more of a need this year for 3-4 defensive linemen than we've seen in many years. And, coincidentally, we're seeing more 3-4 defensive linemen available in this year's draft.

"My initial reaction was, are we inflating their grades because teams need these players? I don't see that at all, these are legit players who project very nicely to a 3-4 scheme. It's an extraordinarily gifted class for defensive tackles, a very deep class for defensive ends. It weakens out a little bit for 4-3 guys once you get past the top one or two defensive ends -- there are not a lot of elite pass-rushers, but some very good productive players. I think that depth goes to the late second or third round."

If you're a team like the Steelers which needs an offensive tackle, there is good and bad news. The bad news: There's not one worth a top-15 pick. The good news: The Steelers aren't picking in the top 15.

"For the last several years, we've had really spectacular classes for offensive tackles," Rang said. "But many of them have been left tackles. This year, in my opinion, there's only one true left tackle prospect and he actually played right tackle, Tyron Smith, a junior at USC.

"There are guys who were left tackles in college but don't have the unique agility you like at left tackle," he said, meaning they likely won't be drafted as high. "That may work out pretty well for a lot of clubs, especially the later portion of the first round. A lot of guys have pass-protection skills who can compete immediately at left tackle."

He included four in that category -- Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State, Anthony Castonzo of Boston College, Nate Solder of Colorado and Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin.

"I don't see any of those players being legit top 15 but I expect at least those four and perhaps another player could go in the last 15 picks of the first round. There's quality depth as well. James Carpenter from Alabama and Marcus Cannon of TCU and Franklin Orlando of Miami are players [that] in some years that would push at the back end of the first round and might this year. But, if you can get them in the second or third rounds, [it] speaks for the unique depth, especially at right tackle."

And to touch on perhaps the Steelers' greatest need -- cornerback, Rang has some names for you. Forget the top three -- Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara and Jimmy Smith (great player with character issues, Rang said).

"Once you get past the top three, it really thins out. Some players fit what Pittsburgh traditionally likes to do. I like the depth in the second and third rounds, but all those players have some holes in their games. They either lack size, like Brandon Harris, durability, like Virginia's Ras-I Dowling, or have legit concerns about the level of competition, like Davon House of New Mexico State."

As for Colbert's opinion on individual prospects, he will let his actions speak Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11114...#ixzz1KT4IfDce
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