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Old 01-14-2008, 11:15 PM   #1
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Default Steelers eye several positions for first-round pick

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08015/849244-66.stm

Steelers eye several positions for first-round pick
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The Steelers can use help everywhere and would consider drafting at any position in the first round this year except quarterback and tight end.

But they won't use free agency as a primary way to restock their roster, following a long-standing philosophy.

"No, I don't see any reason or any scenario where we wouldn't follow the same path we have," Kevin Colbert, the Steelers' director of football operations, said yesterday.

Colbert said the process and priorities will remain consistent with what they've done before. They will first talk to their own players who can become unrestricted free agents, including guard Alan Faneca, and then to others under contract they would like to extend, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

While the Steelers could put the franchise tag on Faneca and keep him another year, it's not likely they will do so.

"We haven't closed the door," Colbert said of Faneca. But ... "Again, we know once you get to free agency or are that close to free agency, obviously you're going to have competition. The price most likely has gone up. We haven't closed the door nor will we until we know for sure that we're not going to be in it."

Faneca and linebacker Clark Haggans are the only starters who can become unrestricted free agents. Former starting tackle Max Starks also can become an unrestricted free agent Feb. 29, when the NFL's new calendar year begins.

Colbert said he and others in the organization are in the process of determining how much salary cap room they will have in 2008 -- some incentives earned from last season count this year, for example -- and which players they want to keep and which they do not.

They also will look at free agency; even though they rarely make a splash in free agency, they normally sign a few players, and usually add one starter.

Starters they've added through free agency in recent years include center Sean Mahan (2007), safety Ryan Clark (2006) and receiver Cedrick Wilson (2005). In this century, they also signed free agents who became Pro Bowlers, linebacker James Farrior in 2002 and center Jeff Hartings in 2001.

Colbert said Roethlisberger's impending new deal -- which will easily be the most expensive in club history -- has no bearing on the team's approach to free agency this year.

"Ben is now in that area where he's two years out and that's when we've traditionally addressed the quarterback," Colbert said. "And we will look at guys who are one year out too, in that order."

Among those with one year left on their contracts are Farrior, Wilson, tackle Marvel Smith, quarterback Charlie Batch, tight end Jerame Tuman, cornerback Bryant McFadden and a handful of players who would become restricted free agents after next season.

Colbert agreed with coach Mike Tomlin that the team likely will need help in the offensive and defensive lines, but he did not think the offensive line was as big a problem as many make it out to be.

"Obviously, the sack numbers [47] were something that were up and were unacceptable. But you also have to realize it's the same line that blocked for the league's leading rusher before his injury and it's the same line that allowed the quarterback to have his best year ever.

"To say you need that position and that it is a glaring need, I don't think it's really fair to that group of guys. That being said, sure you want to add depth -- you realize you can lose two unrestricted free agents, and if you do, maybe that changes your focus as you move forward. But I think you have to keep in mind that group did some good things too."

Colbert said the Steelers could draft virtually any position in the first round, and that includes a running back. Willie Parker led the NFL in rushing until his right fibula was broken in the 15th game in St. Louis.

It's not the injury that might prompt them to draft a back -- Colbert said Parker should be as good as new and he would have returned to play in 2007 if the injury came earlier in the season.

Might they draft a back in the first round?

"Heck, yeah, absolutely," Colbert said.

Why?

"LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner [of San Diego], Kevin Faulk and Laurence Maroney [of New England], Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw [of the New York Giants]. Just looking at the teams that are still successful -- look at what Ryan Grant's doing for the Packers after they lost their guy. Unless you have a superstar, and even in San Diego's case, that's as good as it gets but it's still nice to have another guy."

?

NOTE -- The Steelers signed two more players to their future list -- long-snapper Jared Retkofsky and fullback Billy Latsko. Retkofsky spent his rookie training camp with the Steelers last summer. Latsko spent his rookie season with the Carolina Panthers last year.
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Old 01-15-2008, 12:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers eye several positions for first-round pick

Colbert agreed with coach Mike Tomlin that the team likely will need help in the offensive and defensive lines, but he did not think the offensive line was as big a problem as many make it out to be.

"Obviously, the sack numbers [47] were something that were up and were unacceptable. But you also have to realize it's the same line that blocked for the league's leading rusher before his injury and it's the same line that allowed the quarterback to have his best year ever.

"To say you need that position and that it is a glaring need, I don't think it's really fair to that group of guys. That being said, sure you want to add depth -- you realize you can lose two unrestricted free agents, and if you do, maybe that changes your focus as you move forward. But I think you have to keep in mind that group did some good things too."

Colbert said the Steelers could draft virtually any position in the first round, and that includes a running back. Willie Parker led the NFL in rushing until his right fibula was broken in the 15th game in St. Louis.

Quote:
It's not the injury that might prompt them to draft a back -- Colbert said Parker should be as good as new and he would have returned to play in 2007 if the injury came earlier in the season.

Might they draft a back in the first round?

"Heck, yeah, absolutely," Colbert said.

Why?

"LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner [of San Diego], Kevin Faulk and Laurence Maroney [of New England], Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw [of the New York Giants]. Just looking at the teams that are still successful -- look at what Ryan Grant's doing for the Packers after they lost their guy. Unless you have a superstar, and even in San Diego's case, that's as good as it gets but it's still nice to have another guy."
OH CRUD.

Please... Let's not put on the blinders... Our oline is horrible. DRAFT OLINE.

You know, I wonder if this is a ploy for draft pick maneuverability.

If it isn't... I am going to worry about next year, and our QB's future.
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Old 01-15-2008, 12:48 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers eye several positions for first-round pick

They can't really be serious about drafting a first round RB. I can't imagine any scenario.

However, w/ all the underclassmen declaring this year, it would be an ideal year to snag one in the second or third round. This year's RB draft class is strong.

I envision a first round OT, and a little shuffling of the line:
-Colon inside to guard and I think he could be a mauler.
-Kemo has got some nasty in him too, I think he could do adequate at guard replacing Faneca, or atleast still being a solid backup.
-Sean Mayhan should have no starting spot on this team. Someone keeps piping in that they SWEARRRRRR they saw him manhandling Big Snack in training camp. Please. There is no way. I don't even really like giving him a shot at guard. I hope we pursue a FA Center.
-Simmons is signed for decent money for awhile longer. He's got a spot, Guard or Center.

for RB's I really like Ray Rice. he sure does know how to run.
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Old 01-15-2008, 02:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers eye several positions for first-round pick

I'm to the point where I wouldn't mind seeing the Steelers TRADE their 1st round pick for an established and quality offensive lineman, and of course he would have to be no more than a 3 year vet.
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Old 01-15-2008, 04:00 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers eye several positions for first-round pick

I really don't see us picking up a running back in the first,I think he is just throwing a smoke screen so others don't know who we are going after.
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Old 01-15-2008, 04:32 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers eye several positions for first-round pick

I think they ought to draft a defensive lineman. Look at how the Giants and Chargers pressure the QB with only their defensive line. It gives their DBs time to make plays on the ball, and allows the linebackers to pursue. The Steelers get zero pressure from the defensive line right now. Draft a defensive end who can pass rush and watch the defense improve immediately. LeBeau must go! LeBeau must go! LeBeau must go!
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Old 01-15-2008, 06:43 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers eye several positions for first-round pick

Quote:
Originally Posted by Preacher View Post

OH CRUD.

Please... Let's not put on the blinders... Our oline is horrible. DRAFT OLINE.

You know, I wonder if this is a ploy for draft pick maneuverability.

If it isn't... I am going to worry about next year, and our QB's future.
Unfortunately, after last years draft selections, nothing would surprise me.
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Old 01-15-2008, 07:09 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers eye several positions for first-round pick

Colbert agreed with coach Mike Tomlin that the team likely will need help in the offensive and defensive lines, but he did not think the offensive line was as big a problem as many make it out to be.

"Obviously, the sack numbers [47] were something that were up and were unacceptable. But you also have to realize it's the same line that blocked for the league's leading rusher before his injury and it's the same line that allowed the quarterback to have his best year ever.

"To say you need that position and that it is a glaring need, I don't think it's really fair to that group of guys. That being said, sure you want to add depth -- you realize you can lose two unrestricted free agents, and if you do, maybe that changes your focus as you move forward. But I think you have to keep in mind that group did some good things too."


I hope/assume that is to placate the feelings of the OL who will remain and nothing more.

Saying we should focus on the good things accomplished by the line is like arguing some good things happened on the Titanic's maiden voyage becuse the ship made it more than halfway across the Atlantic before sinking

The OL gave up 47 sacks this year & 49 sacks in 2006. Something more than tweaking is required.

As for drafting a RB, I guess the question is how bad Parker's break was - ankle injuries can be tough - Jack Ham was never the same after dislocating his in 1979
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Old 01-15-2008, 07:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers eye several positions for first-round pick

the steelers main concerns are the O-line followed by the D-line.

someone brought up kemo as a replacement for faneca. kemo's problem is he can't learn his assignments. he is all brawn and no brain at this point.

i doubt simmons will be able to handle being a center. he has enough trouble as a guard.
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Old 01-15-2008, 08:07 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers eye several positions for first-round pick

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlanta Dan View Post
As for drafting a RB, I guess the question is how bad Parker's break was - ankle injuries can be tough - Jack Ham was never the same after dislocating his in 1979
Ankle injuries are tough. Too bad he broke his leg (fibula) not his ankle.

Thank you very much
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