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Old 02-22-2009, 10:09 AM   #1
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Default Steelers ready to tackle o-line issue

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_612897.html#

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Steelers ready to tackle o-line issue

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, February 22, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS The premier offensive line prospects in this year's NFL draft do not appear to be lacking for confidence.

"I'd say, first of all, put on my film from Baylor and you'll see that I'm the best," left tackle Jason Smith said.

"To be honest," Ole Miss left tackle Michael Oher said, "I feel that I'm the best at my position."

The Steelers may have alleviated an immediate need at left tackle by placing the franchise tag on Max Starks. But if they are looking to upgrade an offensive line that has some uncertainty tackle Marvel Smith and guard Chris Kemoeatu can become free agents on Feb. 27 and there is no guarantee that Starks will sign a long-term contract with the team they may be a year too late.

Offensive tackles don't appear to be nearly as plentiful as they were last year when eight of them went in the first round, including six in a span of 10 picks. And what makes it unlikely that the Steelers get a chance to take a tackle the caliber of Smith or Oher is that they have the last pick (No. 32) in the first round.

Director of football operations Kevin Colbert said the Steelers won't stray from the philosophy they take into every draft. Translation: the Steelers won't make a need-based pick, at least early in the draft, whether it is along the offensive line where they struggled at times last season or the defensive line where they could use an infusion of youth.

"If you go into a draft trying to fill a need, then you're going to make a mistake," Colbert said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We've tried to avoid that."

The Steelers have moved up in the first round of the draft in recent years, including 2006 when they went from No. 32 to No. 25 following a trade with the New York Giants and grabbed wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

Three years earlier, the Steelers moved up 11 spots in the first round to No. 16 after swinging a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs and took safety Troy Polamalu.

"We didn't go into that saying 'We have to get a strong safety.' After we did the full evaluation, we went into that draft thinking 'Boy, we hope we can get Troy Polamalu,'" Colbert said. "Troy was probably one of our top 10 players and when he got down to that range where we could make a doable trade we were able to do it. Same thing with Santonio. It really wasn't need. We just liked him that much."

The Polamalu pick did represent a blissful convergence of sorts.

The Steelers were in need of an upgrade at safety and Polamalu's career has validated the top grade the Steelers gave him prior to the 2003 draft.

"The Steelers have been really good over the years of finding a position of need and making that guy work, drafting a position of need and the guy's been a very good player," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "If they target offensive line and defensive line as their biggest area of need, you can pretty much guarantee they're going to take care of that early. I think where you get in trouble is where you do reach too far and then you dilute your talent base."

Reaching to fill a need is one of many potential pitfalls that comes with the draft, which is one reason why the combine is as important to NFL teams as well as the players that attend it.

The near week-long affair is essentially a job fair, and it gives teams the chance to interview, examine and evaluate hundreds of college prospects.

It is only part of a process that culminates with the two-day draft at the end of April. And scouting has become so sophisticated with personal workouts, psychological evaluations and background checks that Mayock said teams can sometimes suffer from "paralysis by analysis" because they have too much information at their disposal.

The extensive homework done by teams before the draft, however, does takes some of the guesswork out of it.

"There's very few things that we don't know about them," Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell said of the draft-eligible players. "I'm not certain if there's anything other than personal habits that may have an effect on a young man in terms of his preparation and things of that nature."

Colbert said the Steelers' approach to the draft will not change even though they are picking at the end of the first round. The team will put together a list of 32 players it would take with its first pick and adjust accordingly.

When asked if there are enough quality offensive linemen in the draft for the Steelers to get one of them with their first-round pick, Colbert said, "Oh yeah, absolutely."

"They're going to hope an offensive or defensive lineman they like is sitting there," Mayock said. "If he's not, they've got to be willing to take a really good football player at any position like they did with Heath Miller."

Possible targets?

If the Steelers address their offensive or defensive line with their top draft pick, here are some players that may be available at the end of the first round.

Eben Britton, OT, Arizona The 6-6, 310-pound left tackle may be a better prospect at right tackle since he is better at run blocking than pass protecting.

Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU At 6-4, 295 pounds, Jackson may be the only defensive lineman the Steelers will have a chance of getting in the first round that can immediately play in a 3-4 defense.

William Beatty, OT, UConn The 6-6, 291-pounder doesn't have ideal size for a left tackle but his athleticism and a strong senior season could make him a late first- or early second-round pick.

Alex Mack, C, Cal The 6-4, 312-pounder excelled at center but also has the size to play guard, and that combination could make him attractive to the Steelers.

Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss He could slide after a good but not dominant senior season and fall to where the Steelers have a chance to trade up and get him the 6-5, 309-pounder if they really like him.

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 02-22-2009, 01:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers ready to tackle o-line issue

Offensive line is said to be the need, but wait, wasn't that said last year as well? Weren't a lot of people disappointed when the Steelers didn't draft an offensive linemen early in last years draft? Didn't the Steelers just win the Super Bowl with an offensive line that many thought needed a serious upgrade?

I know, I know, the Steelers need to address their offensive line, I agree but, I agree more with Colbert and Mayock,

Quote:
"If you go into a draft trying to fill a need, then you're going to make a mistake," Colbert said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We've tried to avoid that."
Quote:
"The Steelers have been really good over the years of finding a position of need and making that guy work, drafting a position of need and the guy's been a very good player," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "If they target offensive line and defensive line as their biggest area of need, you can pretty much guarantee they're going to take care of that early. I think where you get in trouble is where you do reach too far and then you dilute your talent base."
Quote:
"They're going to hope an offensive or defensive lineman they like is sitting there," Mayock said. "If he's not, they've got to be willing to take a really good football player at any position like they did with Heath Miller."
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Old 02-22-2009, 02:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers ready to tackle o-line issue

i don't think that oher will drop that far, to the point where the steelers could move up and get him.... i rather them stay there and get mack if possible, or britton or just trade down and get some more picks
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Old 02-22-2009, 02:26 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers ready to tackle o-line issue

do you reckon they hold on to mchugh ??
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Old 02-22-2009, 05:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers ready to tackle o-line issue

I think the Steelers pick Alex Mack if he last until 32, if he doesn't and Tyson Jackson is available, I think they pick him. I believe either way the Steelers will be able to cover either the o-line or d-line in the first round.

I also think the Steelers are going to play off what happens in free agency. If Kemo, Essex and Colon all go, then o-line has to be addressed. If they lose one of those guys, you can shuffle them around a bit and maybe go after a D-lineman if a good one is left until 32.
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Old 02-22-2009, 05:18 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers ready to tackle o-line issue

Well last year every O lineman worthy of a first round pick was gone by the time we drafted. Hopefully, with so many O linemen being chosen in the first round last year, the demand for this year will not be quite as high and we can draft a good one with the 32nd pick.
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Old 02-22-2009, 05:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers ready to tackle o-line issue

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Originally Posted by mesaSteeler View Post
Well last year every O lineman worthy of a first round pick was gone by the time we drafted. Hopefully, with so many O linemen being chosen in the first round last year, the demand for this year will not be quite as high and we can draft a good one with the 32nd pick.
I hope you're right. It would be nice if Mack fell to 32 but I'm not counting on it. Hopefully, the Steelers can spin a deal and move up to grab him - he'd be awesome in a Steelers uni!
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Old 02-22-2009, 05:27 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers ready to tackle o-line issue

Picking at #32 I think we could get a good OT there. Jamon meridith or Phil Loadholt. I watched them at the combine and through the season and think they would make a good RT.Meridith also played guard so he could help us out with his versitility.
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Old 02-22-2009, 07:07 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers ready to tackle o-line issue

That I am aware of, I expect us to get 9 picks this year. 7 rounds plus a 7th for Mahan and a 3rd or 4th (I would hope 3rd) for Faneca departing and not signing anyone big. I think resigning guys is going to have us relatively tight money-wise. I can't see taking 9 new players. I fully expect a deal to happen this year similar to the years we got Troy and Santonio. Package our normal 3rd round pick with #32 and move up to grab someone we have our eye on. maybe jumping up to 24 (Atlanta) or 25 (Miami) to get ahead of Philly at 28 and grab the last tackle from the top tier. Or I hope anyway.
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Old 02-22-2009, 07:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers ready to tackle o-line issue

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Originally Posted by Give It To Abercrombie View Post
That I am aware of, I expect us to get 9 picks this year. 7 rounds plus a 7th for Mahan and a 3rd or 4th (I would hope 3rd) for Faneca departing and not signing anyone big. I think resigning guys is going to have us relatively tight money-wise. I can't see taking 9 new players. I fully expect a deal to happen this year similar to the years we got Troy and Santonio. Package our normal 3rd round pick with #32 and move up to grab someone we have our eye on. maybe jumping up to 24 (Atlanta) or 25 (Miami) to get ahead of Philly at 28 and grab the last tackle from the top tier. Or I hope anyway.
well with so many players that are FA.. 9 new players would work out rly
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