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Old 01-13-2008, 09:10 AM   #1
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Default Steelers Must Address OL In Draft

I think that is an understatement. With Faneca almost certainly leaving and quite possibly Starks, too, in addition to some of the OL vets not playing up to par this season, the Steelers and Tomlin will be busy in the offseason rebuilding their OL, utilizing their Top 2 draft choices in that respect and quite possibly signing a FA or two in March, which is something the Steelers don't normally prefer to do.

Very good read.


Steelers must address O-line, draft

By Scott Brown

Sunday, January 13, 2008

It will be unusually quiet this week at the Steelers' South Side practice facility, as the coaches are on vacation.

When they return from a brief respite after a grinding stretch -- one that started with high hopes in late July and ended with a deflating playoff loss more than five months later -- their focus will be squarely on next season.

And specifically what the Steelers have to do to go from a team that was good enough to win 10 games and a division title to one that is good enough to contend for a Super Bowl title.

"I won't take what happened from a positive standpoint for granted," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said last week. "(But) the '08 team will be just as different from '07 as '07was from '06."

Indeed, there will be significant personnel changes, since guard Alan Faneca, a seven-time Pro Bowler, will almost certainly sign somewhere else in March when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Offensive tackle Max Starks could follow Faneca out of Pittsburgh, since he will be an unrestricted free agent, too.
The Steelers would have had to address their offensive line during the offseason even if they weren't facing Faneca's imminent departure.

Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 53 times in 16 starts last season, including the postseason. Considering the financial investment Steelers figure to make in him some time before the start of the 2008 season, they need to do a better job of protecting their Pro Bowl quarterback.

Tomlin conceded that the Steelers need help on the offensive and defensive lines and also need to get younger in both areas.

The Steelers finished first in the NFL during the regular season in total defense, but they were not a dominant group, especially after they lost defensive end Aaron Smith to a season-ending arm injury in early December.

"I thought they struggled late in the season," ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Ron Jaworski said. "I don't think defensively they were as stout against the run, which has always been kind of a hallmark of the Pittsburgh Steelers."

Another hallmark of the Steelers has been building from within.

That is why they are not expected to be very active during the free-agent signing period that starts March 1, even though the Steelers are believed to have significant room under the salary cap.

"We like to do things our way," Steelers chairman Dan Rooney said. "We believe that if we bring a player up and bring him through our system, being in this organization, having the coaches train them the way we want, that that's the way you develop a team."

Not that the Steelers have shunned free agency since the current system was instituted in 1993. Notable signings include center Jeff Hartings (2001) and inside linebacker James Farrior (2002), but the Steelers have never gone for splashy signings.

"Will we take a guy in free agency? Sure," Rooney said. "But we don't believe in going out and acting like you're an expansion team, signing 20 guys that way."

The Steelers might target a guard, one who would come considerably cheaper than Faneca, during the free-agent signing period, especially since that position is not considered strong in this year's NFL draft.

Rob Rang, a senior draft analyst for NFLdraftscout.com, said it is a good year for teams looking for offensive tackles, since as many as five, including Pitt's Jeff Otah, could be taken in the first round.

If the Steelers take an offensive tackle with their first-round pick (No. 24 overall), they might move right tackle Willie Colon to guard or even try him at center.

The Steelers also might consider trying right guard Kendall Simmons at center, given the struggles of Sean Mahan, their only significant free-agent signing last year.

If the Steelers take an offensive lineman among their first two picks in the draft, Rang said, Arizona State center Mike Pollak could be a good fit.

The 6-foot-4, 292-pounder's draft stock has "skyrocketed" this season, Rang said, and he could be a second-round pick.

"Very physical and knows how to play with technique," Rang said of Pollak. "He's the kind of guy that Pittsburgh in the past may consider."

If the Steelers are looking for immediate contributions from the players they take in April's draft, they also will be looking for more help from the players they took in last year's draft.

They didn't get much out of first-rounder Lawrence Timmons, in part because a groin injury limited the linebacker during offseason practices and a significant portion of training camp.

Timmons, who was stuck behind Pro Bowler James Harrison at right outside linebacker, has been moved inside, and he'll compete with Larry Foote for playing time at the "mack" position next season.

Second-round pick LaMarr Woodley thrived at the end of the season, and his emergence is why the Steelers most likely won't bring back Clark Haggans at left outside linebacker.

Tomlin made it clear last week that the growth of the Steelers' most recent draft class will play a significant role in shaping what happens in 2008.

"This entire draft class has to get better," Tomlin said. "They've got to be men on the rise and they've got to be poster boys for this offseason program. That's some of the things that I talked to those guys about when I met with them. Time will tell."

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Old 01-13-2008, 09:17 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers Must Address OL In Draft

In other news, the earth is round.

I'll be very interested in this year's off-season. Here's hoping Tomlin backs up what's he's been saying. I think he will.
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Old 01-13-2008, 11:25 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers Must Address OL In Draft

We badly need a rock at center, a tackle and a guard. Draft players that do not allow sacks.
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Old 01-13-2008, 11:52 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers Must Address OL In Draft

Personally I am willing to wait for two years , if need be, for the Steelers to return to the elite status once again and IMMEDIATELY FIX THE OFFENSIVE LINE NOW and get some high intensity guys that will play their heart out on special teams.
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Old 01-13-2008, 01:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers Must Address OL In Draft

it all depends on who can play what position. if they like kendall at gaurd then keep him there but if they like him at center then i think gaurds will be our #1 pick. i would like to see starks be resigned as a gaurd because he has the build and strength to be a guard, not the speed to be a tackle. i would like to see marvel smith traded for a late 1st-mid 2nd round draft pick( if possible..... i would take a 3rd at worst). i think tomlin needs to sit down and choose a depth chart for next season that isnt final but gives a skeleton to go off of. we need depth at O and D line and also our DBs. i think this draft could be one of the most effective drafts in the last 20 yrs. this could win us a soup bowl, we could of made it this year if it wasnt for willie, marvel, aaron being injured and our overall O-line sucking.
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Old 01-13-2008, 05:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers Must Address OL In Draft

this draft should be all about grabbing depth and sttarters on o-line..
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Old 01-14-2008, 01:23 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers Must Address OL In Draft

"Tomlin conceded that the Steelers need help on the offensive and defensive lines "

The first step is acknowledging you are sick.
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Old 01-14-2008, 01:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers Must Address OL In Draft

Originally Posted by Rhee Rhee View Post
this draft should be all about grabbing depth and sttarters on o-line..

At least 2 picks on the first day... maybe 3 picks on the first day needs to be on the O line.

The ONLY time I would vary from that... Is if a GREAT receiver falls to us in the second round. I would pick him up... however, go O line again in third.
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Old 01-14-2008, 03:27 AM   #9

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Default Re: Steelers Must Address OL In Draft

well if we take a little lookskis, I think we're pretty set at TE, QB, LB for sure.

WR, RB, and DB aren't really NEEDS per say, But I'm not sure how much the coaching staff likes/feels about some of the young players at their positions (i.e. Gay, B-mac, Russell, Davenport, Washington, Reid)

It would be nice to add a Tall WR (they really need to decide what to do w/ Nate Washington, and Willie Reid)

It would be nice to add a little more of a power back (not saying he has to be 230+ lbs.), and also figure out what to do w/ Davenport.

It would be nice to add another young DB (basically because you can never have too many good corners), and definitely need to figure out if Ryan Clark is going to be back 100% (I feel a lot of people really underappreciated him, and it is quite obvious now that while A. Smith may have huge upside, he still has much to learn)

And wow, do we need Aaron Smith back healthy or what. Him and Big Snack are not getting any younger, although they definitely have a few more good years in them. I wouldn't complain at all if we picked up someone like T. Jackson from LSU who can play 3-4 end or in a 4-3 also. But not in the first round.

but dangggggggggggg do we need to protect Roethlisberger. If he had half the time to make plays that Manning or Brady or Romo or Brees have, jesus, the sky could be the limit. We'll go as far as he can take us. here's to hoping ryan clady gets a baddddddd flu right before the combine, sucks, and then falls to us.
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Old 01-14-2008, 03:59 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers Must Address OL In Draft

i want a leader at center.. its our history. im not sure simmons possesses the qualities that the centers before him have. if he needs to be a quick one year fix, then so be it. but i just dont see him as the center of the future.
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