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Old 04-21-2009, 10:17 PM   #1
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Default Defensive linemen high on Steelers' list

Defensive linemen high on Steelers' list
http://www.observer-reporter.com/OR/Sports/

By F. Dale Lolley

Staff writer

dlolley@observer-reporter.com


When asked about his team's priorities before the 2008 NFL draft, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin listed getting younger on the defensive and offensive lines.

As the draft unfolded, however, the Steelers were unable to accomplish either, getting offensive tackle Tony Hills in the fourth round and failing to select a defensive lineman.

This year, those two positions won't be ignored, particularly the defensive line, where five of the Steelers' top six players are 30 or older.

For the Steelers, however, the wide usage of the spread offense in college has had a detrimental effect on the type of defensive linemen they need.

Because the spread offense relies on speed, college coaches have responded by using smaller and faster players on the defensive line. Instead of starting 280-pound defensive ends, teams are lining up with 240-pounders at the position.

"Some teams will value those players more as defensive ends and they could get drafted higher," said Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert. "But there's more of those guys who can potentially be outside backers."


So where does that leave the Steelers?

Sifting through the other guys.

LSU's Tyson Jackson (6-5, 290 pounds) would be an ideal fit for the Steelers as a 3-4 defensive end, but is likely the only such prospect in this year's draft.

Though some other defensive ends are available - Tennessee's Robert Ayers and Georgia Tech's Michael Johnson are two - they are classic 4-3 ends, players in the 260- to 270-pound range who are better pass rushers than run stoppers.

Jarron Gilbert of San Jose State is a player who could possibly slip to the end of the first round.

At 6-5 and 280 pounds, Gilbert has excellent size and good workouts. But he didn't always dominate at the lower NCAA Division I level and is a high-risk, high-reward player.

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While big-bodied defensive ends may be lacking in this draft, there's a glut of defensive tackles.

Boston College's B.J. Raji is a 6-2, 334-pound fireplug who would be a perfect nose tackle in a 3-4 defense.

Teams worry Raji will struggle with weight issues throughout his career. But he's a top-10 prospect and will probably be the first defensive lineman selected.

Mississippi's Peria Jerry (6-2, 299) is another big run-stuffer who should go in the first round and could play on the nose.

Peria keyed an Ole Miss defense that ranked fourth in the country against the run, registering 18 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Missouri's Evander "Ziggy" Hood has excellent size - 6-3 and 300 pounds - and speed - 4.83 seconds in the 40 - but he is projected as a tackle in a 4-3 scheme.

In Pittsburgh's defense, he'd play end in order to take advantage of his ability to rush the passer.

USC's Fili Moala (6-4, 305) has drawn interest from the Steelers, but is viewed more as a second-round talent.

Defensive linemen who might interest the Steelers in later rounds include Clemson's 6-3, 312-pound Dorrell Scott and Sammie Lee Hill of Stillman College (6-4, 329), and Oregon's Ra'Shon Harris (6-4, 298).
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Old 04-21-2009, 10:29 PM   #2
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Default Re: Defensive linemen high on Steelers' list

Ron Brace out of Boston College (Not mentioned in the article) is the guy I feel the Steelers should target in the second round. He can play DT in a 4-3, NT in a 3-4 or DE in a 3-4. He would be excellent depth upon being added to the roster and eventually could turn into Hampton's replacement.
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Old 04-21-2009, 11:05 PM   #3
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Default Re: Defensive linemen high on Steelers' list

Brace would be a great addition to our D-line.
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Old 04-22-2009, 12:17 AM   #4
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Default Re: Defensive linemen high on Steelers' list

I would like Brace as a NT, but really dont see him being able to play DE. In games at BC, the senior bowl and the combine he really showed that he isnt that athletic or quick and looked to tire easily. He is more of a 2 down NT that would come out on passing downs.

Nick Eason looks to be more effective of a DE than Brace would be. Brace in the 2nd and maybe Kyle Moore of USC in the 5th as a DE prospect would add some youth to the D line.
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Old 04-22-2009, 12:26 AM   #5
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Default Re: Defensive linemen high on Steelers' list

Quote:
Originally Posted by El-Gonzo Jackson View Post
I would like Brace as a NT, but really dont see him being able to play DE. In games at BC, the senior bowl and the combine he really showed that he isnt that athletic or quick and looked to tire easily. He is more of a 2 down NT that would come out on passing downs.

Nick Eason looks to be more effective of a DE than Brace would be. Brace in the 2nd and maybe Kyle Moore of USC in the 5th as a DE prospect would add some youth to the D line.
He's definitely much more suited as a NT, but the ability to play DE in spots is there in my opinion. If the Steelers selected him though I have no doubt it would be as a NT.
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