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fordfixer
02-22-2009, 03:25 AM
Steelers ready to tackle o-line issue

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

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 12897.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_612897.html)

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.

Mister Pittsburgh
02-22-2009, 12:44 PM
At this point, with the roster as it is, would we benefit more by quantity or quality? With us probably getting an extra 3rd round pick, any chance we trade our second round pick and maybe a lower round pick and move up a little bit to snag a target? Or do you guys think we will stand pat and wait to see who is there at #32. I wouldn't mind seeing them trade up if it is a guy that could contribute this year either on the offensive line, defensive line, or at CB if they fee Gay could be upgraded.

Lebsteel
02-22-2009, 02:29 PM
At this point, with the roster as it is, would we benefit more by quantity or quality? With us probably getting an extra 3rd round pick, any chance we trade our second round pick and maybe a lower round pick and move up a little bit to snag a target? Or do you guys think we will stand pat and wait to see who is there at #32. I wouldn't mind seeing them trade up if it is a guy that could contribute this year either on the offensive line, defensive line, or at CB if they fee Gay could be upgraded.

With our first four picks, I think we go two OL, one DL, CB and WR. If Starks signs a long term deal, I can't see us going OT. I was surprised that Unger's name was not on the list above. I'd much rather have Mack, but if he is gone along with Jackson, I think we'd probably look hard at taking Unger.

calmkiller
02-22-2009, 02:56 PM
I am still not sold on Unger, He seems like a Jack of all trades Master of none. I want someone that is excellent and one position not someone that can play multiple. That is how we got into this mess to start with.

RuthlessBurgher
02-22-2009, 09:07 PM
At this point, with the roster as it is, would we benefit more by quantity or quality? With us probably getting an extra 3rd round pick, any chance we trade our second round pick and maybe a lower round pick and move up a little bit to snag a target? Or do you guys think we will stand pat and wait to see who is there at #32. I wouldn't mind seeing them trade up if it is a guy that could contribute this year either on the offensive line, defensive line, or at CB if they fee Gay could be upgraded.

If one of the top 4 LT prospects falls to #20, giving up our 2nd round pick should be able to allow us to move from #32 to #20 (picks #32 [590] and #64 [270] add up to 860, which is 10 points more than the #20 pick is worth [850] on the trade value chart). That would give the Lions (who got that pick from the Cowboys in the Roy Williams trade), 2 picks in the 1st round, 2 picks in the 2nd round, and 2 picks in the 3rd round (and since they need pretty much everything, that would probably be a good idea for them). It would be interesting to see them have back-to-back picks twice (32-33 and 64-65) if that came to pass.

buckeyehoppy
02-23-2009, 12:35 AM
With our first four picks, I think we go two OL, one DL, CB and WR. If Starks signs a long term deal, I can't see us going OT. I was surprised that Unger's name was not on the list above. I'd much rather have Mack, but if he is gone along with Jackson, I think we'd probably look hard at taking Unger.


I am still not sold on Unger, He seems like a Jack of all trades Master of none. I want someone that is excellent and one position not someone that can play multiple. That is how we got into this mess to start with.

At some point, if the Steelers want to put a competent product out there for their OL they will need to get guys who know how to specialize in one area and can backup a couple others. You need linemen who have some versatility. But if you are too versatile, you run the risk of being Trai Essex.

Unger will be valuable to someone, but the Steelers shouldn't go there unless he drops to at least their spot in the 2nd (#64). Even then, I would want the Steelers to look at DL if someone like Gilbert or Moala was there. We need some new and reliable blood on the DL, too, and would like the Steelers to go there with one of their first two picks even though the need on OL is great.

If the Steelers hold steady with their current picks, I can see them go OL w/pick #32, DL w/pick #64, OL w/pick #96 and DB (CB) w/the 3rd round comp. At this point, it's still a little premature to speculate on exact players. But, if Oher was there with pick #32 the Steelers would be out of their minds to NOT select him.

RuthlessBurgher
02-23-2009, 02:44 PM
With our first four picks, I think we go two OL, one DL, CB and WR. If Starks signs a long term deal, I can't see us going OT. I was surprised that Unger's name was not on the list above. I'd much rather have Mack, but if he is gone along with Jackson, I think we'd probably look hard at taking Unger.


I am still not sold on Unger, He seems like a Jack of all trades Master of none. I want someone that is excellent and one position not someone that can play multiple. That is how we got into this mess to start with.

At some point, if the Steelers want to put a competent product out there for their OL they will need to get guys who know how to specialize in one area and can backup a couple others. You need linemen who have some versatility. But if you are too versatile, you run the risk of being Trai Essex.

Unger will be valuable to someone, but the Steelers shouldn't go there unless he drops to at least their spot in the 2nd (#64). Even then, I would want the Steelers to look at DL if someone like Gilbert or Moala was there. We need some new and reliable blood on the DL, too, and would like the Steelers to go there with one of their first two picks even though the need on OL is great.

If the Steelers hold steady with their current picks, I can see them go OL w/pick #32, DL w/pick #64, OL w/pick #96 and DB (CB) w/the 3rd round comp. At this point, it's still a little premature to speculate on exact players. But, if Oher was there with pick #32 the Steelers would be out of their minds to NOT select him.

If Oher lasted beyond the midpoint of the first round, I would start trying to trade up and get him (a la Troy and Santonio). With so many OT-hungry teams, though, I don't see it happening.

Lebsteel
02-23-2009, 03:00 PM
With our first four picks, I think we go two OL, one DL, CB and WR. If Starks signs a long term deal, I can't see us going OT. I was surprised that Unger's name was not on the list above. I'd much rather have Mack, but if he is gone along with Jackson, I think we'd probably look hard at taking Unger.


I am still not sold on Unger, He seems like a Jack of all trades Master of none. I want someone that is excellent and one position not someone that can play multiple. That is how we got into this mess to start with.

At some point, if the Steelers want to put a competent product out there for their OL they will need to get guys who know how to specialize in one area and can backup a couple others. You need linemen who have some versatility. But if you are too versatile, you run the risk of being Trai Essex.

Unger will be valuable to someone, but the Steelers shouldn't go there unless he drops to at least their spot in the 2nd (#64). Even then, I would want the Steelers to look at DL if someone like Gilbert or Moala was there. We need some new and reliable blood on the DL, too, and would like the Steelers to go there with one of their first two picks even though the need on OL is great.

If the Steelers hold steady with their current picks, I can see them go OL w/pick #32, DL w/pick #64, OL w/pick #96 and DB (CB) w/the 3rd round comp. At this point, it's still a little premature to speculate on exact players. But, if Oher was there with pick #32 the Steelers would be out of their minds to NOT select him.

Totally agree with your thoughts! What do you think of a late round pick of Alex Boone? He posted very good numbers at the combine, but does he have his head on straight?

papillon
02-23-2009, 03:20 PM
At this point, with the roster as it is, would we benefit more by quantity or quality? With us probably getting an extra 3rd round pick, any chance we trade our second round pick and maybe a lower round pick and move up a little bit to snag a target? Or do you guys think we will stand pat and wait to see who is there at #32. I wouldn't mind seeing them trade up if it is a guy that could contribute this year either on the offensive line, defensive line, or at CB if they fee Gay could be upgraded.

With our first four picks, I think we go two OL, one DL, CB and WR. If Starks signs a long term deal, I can't see us going OT. I was surprised that Unger's name was not on the list above. I'd much rather have Mack, but if he is gone along with Jackson, I think we'd probably look hard at taking Unger.

I'm thinking that the Steelers draft 2 DL with their first four picks, an OL and a CB. They franchised Starks, they'll draft a center or guard or someone that can play both positions and CB to add depth for Mcfadden's eminent departure. The defensive line is aging and there isn't anyone waiting to step in, even the backups are on the wrong side of 30.

The Steelers will be fine with the current group of d-linemen for another year, but, they definitely need to begin to look to the future here. Just my :2c - .18 :P

Pappy