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PSU_dropout43
05-24-2010, 10:17 AM
Steelers top 10 prospects are entering the 2010 season.


1. Rashard Mendenhall

The Pittsburgh Steelers first round pick in 2008, Rashard Mendenhall has the size and speed to be one of the elite running backs in the National Football League. His career got off to a disappointing start when he suffered a fractured shoulder during Week 4 of his rookie year, which caused him to miss the rest of the season. But, this past year, Mendenhall had a breakout season and took over the starting role when Willie Parker went down with an injury. Mendenhall played in all 16 games in 2009, starting 12 of them, and carried the ball 242 times for 1,108 yards and seven touchdowns. He also caught 25 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown. With Parker no longer in Pittsburgh, Mendenhall is now the featured back for the Steelers.


2. Lawrence Timmons

Even though Lawrence Timmons is entering his fourth season, he just turned 24 years old and still qualifies as a prospect in this series. And, in many respects, he still hasn't had that breakout year. Slowly but surely, Timmons is transitioning from a great athlete into a tremendous football player. Over the last two years, he's shown signs of greatness, and last year he began to put it together, as he recorded 78 tackles, seven sacks and four forced fumbles. Last year was a huge stepping-stone in Timmons' career, and this season could be the year where he turns into an All-Pro.


3. Mike Wallace

The Steelers found a gem in the third round last year when they selected Mike Wallace. Known for his game breaking speed and ability to make the acrobatic happen at Ole Miss, Wallace displayed those exact talents for the Steelers in his first season and became their big play threat. He played in all 16 games, starting four, and caught 39 passes for 756 yards and six touchdowns. With Santonio Holmes in New York and Limas Sweed out for the year with an Achilles injury, Wallace will likely be a starter opposite Hines Ward this season.


4. Maurkice Pouncey

Looking to upgrade their offensive line, the Steelers used their first round pick this past April to select a player that gives them options at center and guard. Maurkice Pouncey starred at center for Florida and dominated the SEC with his twin brother Mike. Pouncey will compete for a starting job this preseason and could emerge as a starter at guard, as Justin Hartwig has the edge at center.


5. Ziggy Hood

Nicknamed Ziggy, because his grandmother couldn't pronounce Evander, the Steelers' first round choice in 2009 didn't see much action as a rookie, and was used primarily as a situational defender and special teams contributor. He played in all 16 games and recorded eight tackles and a sack. Hood will see more action this year, and with Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel in their thirties, it won't be long until Hood takes over at defensive end full-time.


6. Jason Worilds

A second round pick in the '10 draft, Jason Worilds was the typical Steelers selection: a fast, relentless pass rusher who can create havoc in the backfield. Worilds was an all-world defender at Virginia Tech and decided to forego his senior season after he amassed 49 tackles, 11 for a loss, and 4.5 sacks as a junior. He will likely be a situational defender for the Steelers this year and will be used in certain packages to disrupt the quarterback.


7. Dennis Dixon

Dennis Dixon's time may come sooner than expected with all the controversy surrounding Ben Roethlisberger and his future in Pittsburgh. The Steelers traded for Byron Leftwich this offseason to be the starter, while Roethlisberger serves his four-to-six game suspension. But, if Leftwich struggles, Dixon will get the call. Dixon started one game last year when Roethlisberger and Charlie Batch were injured, and in that start against the Baltimore Ravens, Dixon completed 46.2-percent of his passes for 145 yards a touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed for 27 yards and scored a touchdown.


8. Emmanuel Sanders

The Steelers had to add depth at wide receiver in the draft, after they traded Holmes. And, while Emmanuel Sanders was a bit of a reach in the third round, the numbers he posted - 98 receptions for 1,339 yards and seven touchdowns - this past year at SMU were impressive. Sanders will have to compete with Arnaz Battle and Antwaan Randle El during training camp to emerge as the No. 3 or 4 wide receiver on the depth chart.


9. Kraig Urbik

After being selected in the third round in 2009, Kraig Urbik spent most of his rookie season on the inactive list. Urbik is a massive interior presence and has the strength to keep the opposition at bay. He was unable to lock down one of the backup jobs last season during the preseason, but entering his second year, and being more familiar with the scheme, he should be able to beat out Ramon Foster as the top reserve on the interior.


10. Frank Summers

A fifth round pick last year, Frank Summers started the 2009 season as the Steelers starting fullback. But, he suffered a back injury during Week 2 and was placed on injured reserve the following week. Summers isn't just a blocking fullback, he has the ability to contribute on offense as a runner and receiver. He will likely be the starting fullback this year and gives the Steelers options in the backfield.

Oviedo
05-24-2010, 10:59 AM
Good list of our future. Timmons is going to continue to just get better and better every year.

RuthlessBurgher
05-24-2010, 12:05 PM
I don't buy "prospects" in football. These are good lists to have in baseball, where you have your recent draft picks spread among A, AA, and AAA rosters within your minor league system, or in hockey, where young guys are in major junior hockey, U.S. college hockey, AHL, ECHL, or playing overseas. In football, these guys aren't prospects. They are football players that are expected to contribute to this team in some way this year.

flippy
05-24-2010, 01:16 PM
I think this is going to be the breakout season for Woodley.

He's got the contract issue hanging out there.

And he's the best all around OLB in the game.

I'm looking for a DMVP type of performance from him.

Ghost
05-24-2010, 01:37 PM
Don't see Hills on the list. Think he gets cut this year? He's been around long enough to have broken in, at least as a back up, on the o-line. No reason to keep him around to not dress every game.

RuthlessBurgher
05-24-2010, 01:51 PM
Don't see Hills on the list. Think he gets cut this year? He's been around long enough to have broken in, at least as a back up, on the o-line. No reason to keep him around to not dress every game.

He is squarely on the bubble. He couldn't dress last season, and since then, we have added Pouncey and a couple of Scotts to the o-line mix (plus several UDFA's as well).

Looking at the list of o-linemen, it doesn't look like he is a top 10 o-lineman to me (and we may only keep 9 OL on the final 53 man roster). Looks like his bubble could pop this year.

Max Starks
Chris Kemoeatu
Justin Hartwig
Maurkice Pouncey
Willie Colon
Trai Essex
Doug Legursky
Ramon Foster
Kraig Urbik
Jonathan Scott
Chris Scott
Tony Hills
Kyle Jolly
Dorian Brooks
Bradley Vierling

StarSpangledSteeler
05-24-2010, 02:27 PM
since then, we have added ... a couple of Scotts

Haaaaaaaaaaa!

ANPSTEEL
05-24-2010, 02:40 PM
I'm not a fan of this list- for the same reasons that Ruthless states. Plus, I can not put a 4th year player on a "prospects" list.

What I would suggest is a list of young players that it is most important for the team, that they "step up"

1A- If Denis Dixon is chosen to be the starter for the first 4-6 games, then the #1 spot on this list has to be squarely placed upon his shoulders. Dixon has all the physical skills- the questions will be based upon his decision making.

1B. Mike Wallace
All pressure is on MW to develop after an excellent rookie season. With Holmes gone, Wallace is the defacto starting flanker. As such, he is likely to face the opponents top corner, and often double coverage. Neither of which he was up against last season. If Wallace can not live up to expectations the offense could be in big trouble. All other veteran receivers on the team are inside/slot guys. They'll be able to move the chains- but are no threat to go deep. Watch the safety creep up on the LOS- if Wallace doesn't perform, and the passing game and run game suffer as result.

2. Emmanuel Sanders
For the same reason Wallace's performance is imortant to the team- No Holmes means double coverage on Wallace. Neither El or Battle are outside threats. The team needs another receiver to provide speed and some potential threat to help give Wallace some room. Baring the team signing some unforeseen FA WR, this task is going to fall on Sanders.

3. Rashard Mendenhall
I am hesitant to put each of the first 3 "key" positions all on offense- particularly when it was on the defensive side of the ball that the team failed last season, but- that is where the focus lies- without Holmes & Ben.

In his 3rd season, and 2nd starting, Mendenhall will be expected to carry the load- possibly much more than last season- which by most accounts was a very strong year for the first year starter. Mendenhall will likely be looked at as a more complete back this season. I'd expect him to be a 3 down back. RM has excellent hands - and is a solid blocker in the back field. The only time I'd consider taking him off the field is in a 5 wide/spread or a heavy formation. Mendenhall has all the skills- but opposing teams will likely be focusing more upon the run this year with the offensive subtractions already mentioned. Here is to hoping RM is able to produce.

4. Young Offensive Lineman.
Keeping with the trend- its all about the O. The offensive line performed reasonably well last season. Almost have of the sacks taken by the team were attributed to "mistakes" by other players- including the QB. But this season the OLine has a new coach, and several young players that are being looked upon to step up- to provide a significant improvement on interior pass protection and run blocking.
Pouncey
Urbik
Legursky
Foster
in that oder, will all be expected to "bring it" this season- to shore up the teams weakness at short yardage situations, and interior pass protection.

5. Kennan Lewis.
It's a testament to the crazy off season, that last season's achilles heel is only 5th on my list. The re-addition of Bryant McFadden lessens the severity of need @ CB this season- but the secondary as a whole is still lacking depth- which is where Lewis comes in. It is not expected that Lewis will start over BMac this season, but the team is in desperate need of depth across the secondary. Lewis has the skill set to play corner and safety in the NFL, and will likely see a lot of time in the Nickle & Dime packages. Here is to hoping he performs better than the guys in those roles last season.

That's it- those are my " young guys that need to step up"

:Cheers

BradshawsHairdresser
05-25-2010, 09:15 AM
I think this is going to be the breakout season for Woodley.

He's got the contract issue hanging out there.

And he's the best all around OLB in the game.

I'm looking for a DMVP type of performance from him.

And if that happens, look for him to leave the Steelers in 2011 for a big payday elsewhere. :cry:

Sugar
05-25-2010, 09:31 AM
I think this is going to be the breakout season for Woodley.

He's got the contract issue hanging out there.

And he's the best all around OLB in the game.

I'm looking for a DMVP type of performance from him.

And if that happens, look for him to leave the Steelers in 2011 for a big payday elsewhere. :cry:

I think that if the guy doesn't want to change teams then he will probably stay as the Steelers will be fair with him.

Oviedo
05-25-2010, 09:34 AM
I think this is going to be the breakout season for Woodley.

He's got the contract issue hanging out there.

And he's the best all around OLB in the game.

I'm looking for a DMVP type of performance from him.

And if that happens, look for him to leave the Steelers in 2011 for a big payday elsewhere. :cry:

Unlikely he leaves in 2011. Unless there is a radical restructure in the new CBA they should be able to tag him for at least one more year. That is two years for Gibson or Worilds to get ready.

Don't forget that they will be off loading Farrior's contract soon plus in two years they may be off loading Troy's contract if he continues to have injury issues, Aaron Smith's contract, Ike Taylor's contract. There should be $$$ on the defensive side of the ball for Woodley.

I think the contract we may come to regret is James Harrison's. Not for his lack of effort but decreasing performance.

cruzer8
05-25-2010, 10:08 AM
I think this is going to be the breakout season for Woodley.

He's got the contract issue hanging out there.

And he's the best all around OLB in the game.

I'm looking for a DMVP type of performance from him.

And if that happens, look for him to leave the Steelers in 2011 for a big payday elsewhere. :cry:

Unlikely he leaves in 2011. Unless there is a radical restructure in the new CBA they should be able to tag him for at least one more year. That is two years for Gibson or Worilds to get ready.

Don't forget that they will be off loading Farrior's contract soon plus in two years they may be off loading Troy's contract if he continues to have injury issues, Aaron Smith's contract, Ike Taylor's contract. There should be $$$ on the defensive side of the ball for Woodley.

I think the contract we may come to regret is James Harrison's. Not for his lack of effort but decreasing performance.

I attribute most of that to the massive number of times he is held and it's not called "because of the way he rushes the passer".

Oviedo
05-25-2010, 10:30 AM
I think this is going to be the breakout season for Woodley.

He's got the contract issue hanging out there.

And he's the best all around OLB in the game.

I'm looking for a DMVP type of performance from him.

And if that happens, look for him to leave the Steelers in 2011 for a big payday elsewhere. :cry:

Unlikely he leaves in 2011. Unless there is a radical restructure in the new CBA they should be able to tag him for at least one more year. That is two years for Gibson or Worilds to get ready.

Don't forget that they will be off loading Farrior's contract soon plus in two years they may be off loading Troy's contract if he continues to have injury issues, Aaron Smith's contract, Ike Taylor's contract. There should be $$$ on the defensive side of the ball for Woodley.

I think the contract we may come to regret is James Harrison's. Not for his lack of effort but decreasing performance.

I attribute most of that to the massive number of times he is held and it's not called "because of the way he rushes the passer".

The end result is the same...no sacks (only two in final eight games last season). Several on this board brought up a couple of years ago that there may eventually be an issue with Harrison and his bull rushes. I'm not sure he has second or third moves to go to that are effective. Using a bull rush gives the OL all the opportunity in the world to hold because you don't force them to turn and reach like a speed rusher would. I really like him so I hope he bounces back this season but I am somewhat concerned.

RuthlessBurgher
05-25-2010, 10:38 AM
I think this is going to be the breakout season for Woodley.

He's got the contract issue hanging out there.

And he's the best all around OLB in the game.

I'm looking for a DMVP type of performance from him.

And if that happens, look for him to leave the Steelers in 2011 for a big payday elsewhere. :cry:

Unlikely he leaves in 2011. Unless there is a radical restructure in the new CBA they should be able to tag him for at least one more year. That is two years for Gibson or Worilds to get ready.

Don't forget that they will be off loading Farrior's contract soon plus in two years they may be off loading Troy's contract if he continues to have injury issues, Aaron Smith's contract, Ike Taylor's contract. There should be $$$ on the defensive side of the ball for Woodley.

I think the contract we may come to regret is James Harrison's. Not for his lack of effort but decreasing performance.

I attribute most of that to the massive number of times he is held and it's not called "because of the way he rushes the passer".

The end result is the same...no sacks (only two in final eight games last season). Several on this board brought up a couple of years ago that there may eventually be an issue with Harrison and his bull rushes. I'm not sure he has second or third moves to go to that are effective. Using a bull rush gives the OL all the opportunity in the world to hold because you don't force them to turn and reach like a speed rusher would. I really like him so I hope he bounces back this season but I am somewhat concerned.

OTA reports have Harrison staying after practice to work one-on-one with Jerry Olsavsky on his hand placement and the like.

Sugar
05-25-2010, 10:44 AM
I don't think it's a coincidence that when Harrison's numbers dropped, Woodley's picked up. Especially with Troy out. D coordinators have to gameplan for one or the other. It's a pick your poison thing, IMO. Focus on stopping Woodley and Harrison gets you. Focus on stopping Harrison and Woodley gets you.

cruzer8
05-25-2010, 12:28 PM
OTA reports have Harrison staying after practice to work one-on-one with Jerry Olsavsky on his hand placement and the like.

And that same report stated the main reason for working on different techniques was due to all the holds that are not called.

His rush technique is effective if the rules are properly enforced. Unfortunately they are not.

TallyStiller
05-25-2010, 06:32 PM
Lawrence Timmons was #2 on the list... and I think he can, like the author said, transformn this defense if he plays up to his ability. I remember watching Kendrell Bell step in here his rookie season and just transform games by being constantly around the ball, making big plays, forcing turnovers. He was so good that Bill Cowher, notorious rookie hater that he was, couldn't keep him on the bench.

Timmons was that kind of player at Florida State. I've been waiting for him to turn into the kind of force that he was... but he was indeed extremely raw coming out of college. He came out a year early, and was nothing but a 230 pound pin back your ears and kill the QB speed rushing defensive end when he got to FSU. They converted him to LB mid - stream. He had a lot to learn about playing the position when he was drafted... he was a solid contributor on defense last year, but solid contributors aren't what you're looking for with the 15th overall pick, and solid contributors don't win championships. He needs to turn into another game breaker for this defense to return to the greatness it had in '08.