PDA

View Full Version : Could The Steelers Really Draft Two LBs Again In 2011?



hawaiiansteel
03-31-2011, 09:49 PM
Could The Steelers Really Draft Two Linebackers Again In 2011?


We are just a few days away from April and a few days closer to the Steelers perhaps drafting another linebacker in the 2011 NFL draft and maybe even two. Now of course there is no guarantee that they draft one, but since Kevin Colbert became the Director of Football Operations with the Steelers in 2000, the Steelers have drafted at least one linebacker in all but two of the Steelers drafts he has overseen and four times in that span, the Steelers have drafted more than one linebacker.

A quick rewind back to last April and you will remember the Steelers actually drafted three linebackers in the form of Jason Worilds, Thaddeus Gibson and Stevenson Sylvester. All three made the Steelers opening day 53 man roster, but Gibson eventually was waived so the Steelers could sign defensive tackle Steve McLendon off of the practice squad because both Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel were both sidelined with injuries. The Steelers were hoping Gibson would clear waivers so they could sign him to the practice squad, but the 49ers quickly snatched Gibson off the waiver wire and the Steelers were out a fourth round draft pick. Worilds and Sylvester contributed heavily on special teams in 2010, but both only received very limited mop-up snaps on the defensive side of the ball late in blow-out wins.

If you look at the Steelers linebacker group heading into the offseason, the entire starting unit of James Harrison, James Farrior, Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley will return in 2011. Woodley was hit with the franchise tag prior to the lockout and the Steelers will likely try to work out a long term deal with him when the labor situation is resolved. Although Farrior is signed through the 2012 season, 2011 could very well be the final season the 36 year old veteran has in the black and gold. Timmons is entering his final year of his rookie contract in 2011 and that will need to be addressed at some point in the near future. Harrison has shown no signs of slowing down, but has had two minor back procedures since the season has ended and that certainly has to be of some concern no matter how minor they may have been. Harrison is under contract through 2014 and if he stays healthy should be able to play out most, if not all of it.

Behind the starting group is where the questions abound. Worilds and Sylvester should be more up to speed in their sophomore seasons, so that takes cares of one outside and one inside spot. It should be noted however that most of the regular season defensive snaps that Sylvester saw in 2010, came at the outside positions. This was likely because of numbers ahead of him as Larry Foote and Keyaron Fox were the primary back-up inside linebackers in 2010 and they just wanted to get Sylvester some snaps to also test his versatility. Fox is now an unrestricted free agent and there is a good chance he will not be re-signed. Foote was brought back in 2010 after a year in Detroit and saw most of his time on defense in goal-line situations and mop-up duty. Foote is still under contract for two more seasons and will turn 31 in June. All signs point to him being back in 2011 on the 53 man roster, but the Steelers could also decide to go younger there as well.

Considering all of the above, it would appear that there is just one open spot for just one linebacker on the 2011 roster, but had the Steelers not waived Gibson, they likely would of carried nine linebackers for all of 2010. One could then argue they might want to get back to that number in 2011. In addition, young linebackers usually can contribute instantly on special teams.

On Tuesday, Colbert and Mike Tomlin were seen getting pretty cozy with Texas defensive end Sam Acho at his pro day. Defensive end you say? Acho projects as 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level and the Steelers absolutely love these types of tweeners as we have seen over the years. Acho was run through quite a bit of linebacker drills and reportedly fared well showing his ability to drop into coverage as that position in a 34 defense calls for as a skill set. Now you can't read too much into the coziness as Acho was surely not the only player the Steelers brass were there to see as defensive backs Aaron Williams and Curtis Brown were also on display and either could certainly be on the Steelers radar in the first two rounds. Acho is projected to be a late second round or early third round pick, so the Steelers would likely have to pick him in the second round unless they were to move up higher in the third. That certainly is not out of the question.

Should the Steelers spend a first or second round pick on a linebacker, it would likely cause several of Steeler Nation to jump out of their office windows, no matter what floor they are on. It is however not unthinkable though. The draft is perceived as a deep one for the cornerback and tackle position by most of the scouts and it is not out of the question the Steelers might wait until the mid rounds to address one of those two need areas. The Steelers certainly might not deem both the tackle and cornerback as such the urgent need as the fan base does and most certainly could just go the best player available route as well. Especially if they feel they have a good chance of retaining the services of free agent cornerback Ike Taylor and the yet to be determined guys like Willie Colon and William Gay. The longer the lockout goes on the better the chances it seems.

In closing, the Steelers love linebackers and they play a huge role in the success of the Steelers defense nearly every year. They also covet the tweener types it seems more than most, but as more teams shift to the 34, the greater the demand will be on these types of players. Just because the Steelers starting group is in place, does not mean that they will not continue to reload, especially with the long term status of both Woodley and Timmons up in the air come draft day. It should not surprise you if the Steelers draft one linebacker next month and as I have shown, it should not surprise you if they draft two. It's that time of year again. Linebacker drafting time.

POSTED BY DAVE BRYAN ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2011

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2011/03/co ... n-in-2011/ (http://www.steelersdepot.com/2011/03/could-the-steelers-really-draft-two-linebackers-again-in-2011/)

Chadman
03-31-2011, 10:50 PM
Chadman would have no problem selecting Acho in Round 2.

Chadman wonders if there will collective wrist cutting if the Steelers go DE, OLB, OT/CB, OT/CB etc...?

StarSpangledSteeler
04-01-2011, 03:49 AM
Chadman would have no problem selecting Acho in Round 2.

Chadman wonders if there will collective wrist cutting if the Steelers go DE, OLB, OT/CB, OT/CB etc...?

I wouldn't cut my wrists, but i might buy a few razors.

Just out of curiosity, why would you approve of Acho in round 2? I know why you would want Acho on our team (he's a good player) but how could you justify taking him in round 2, especially with our need at CB and so many solid prospects projected to be there?

Oviedo
04-01-2011, 09:12 AM
Given the need to improve the talent level of the defensive backfield I think 2 LBs would be a luxury we can't afford.

I could see a late LB after Round 4 or 5 like Bruce Miller from UCF who projects to be able to play inside and outside.

Chadman
04-01-2011, 10:16 AM
Acho is a Round 2 talent- if the coaches feel they can use him, then Chadman thinks he's good value. Chadman does wonder how bad our OL & CB's are in the coaches eyes...

RuthlessBurgher
04-01-2011, 10:44 AM
Given the need to improve the talent level of the defensive backfield I think 2 LBs would be a luxury we can't afford.

I could see a late LB after Round 4 or 5 like Bruce Miller from UCF who projects to be able to play inside and outside.

I see that Bruce Miller was also doing some fullback drills at his Pro Day.

Just imagine giving Arians another non-fullback fullback to play with!

Fullback in a Bruce Arians offense: It's not just for 3rd string tight ends anymore! :mrgreen:

Oviedo
04-01-2011, 10:52 AM
Acho is a Round 2 talent- if the coaches feel they can use him, then Chadman thinks he's good value. Chadman does wonder how bad our OL & CB's are in the coaches eyes...

I don't think our coaches ever have viewed the OL as bad as the fans have. They aren't naive but I think they have viewed coaching as part of the issue which is why Kugler was brought in. Also, in a team sport with a salary cap you have to make a conscious decision on which position unit you are going to economize verusus other units.

If you want to pay a franchise QB and have the premier LB group in the NFL you have to cut dollars in other place. IMO--it appears we have done so with the OL which is why I question whether they will really add another Round 1 salary to the OL just one year after adding Pouncey.

As far as our secondary I would be truly concerned if our coaches did not see a major issue there after getting picked apart numerous times over the past couple of seasons by any team with a good QB. You can't count on playing bad QBs in the play offs as a strategy for success.

birtikidis
04-01-2011, 11:31 AM
Chadman would have no problem selecting Acho in Round 2.

Chadman wonders if there will collective wrist cutting if the Steelers go DE, OLB, OT/CB, OT/CB etc...?

I wouldn't cut my wrists, but i might buy a few razors.

Just out of curiosity, why would you approve of Acho in round 2? I know why you would want Acho on our team (he's a good player) but how could you justify taking him in round 2, especially with our need at CB and so many solid prospects projected to be there?
Well first reason you could take 2 lb'ers is because we only have 3 outside backers on the team. We don't have a lot of depth. wheras we have 2 guys with less then 3 years of experience at corner. taking one outside guy and one inside guy would improve depth at linebacker. Farrior will be 36. Harrison has just had 2 back surgeries. Foote is getting long in the tooth. there is definite need there.
the second reason is because a 3-4 relies on its linebackers more than any other position. that and it takes longer to develop them.
I, just like many others, think that BMac has a long way to go to be a decent corner, but to say that that has become our biggest need is untrue.

ramblinjim
04-01-2011, 12:10 PM
I wouldn't be surprised at all for two linebackers. If Wilson is there in the first round and he looks like BPA for us at that point, he fits the mold of "big school, big athlete" that we have drafted so far in the first round. He's athletically gifted and could learn behind one of the best 3-4 inside backers to lace'em up for a year or so. Just like Lawrence Timmons.

If they don't draft a Corner early and often though, that would make me think either a.) Ike Taylor's new deal is already "done" or b.) that Keenan Lewis guy is much better than we all think or c.) we're going to assume that quarterback play in the AFC North isn't good enough to chew us up.

Oviedo
04-01-2011, 12:56 PM
I wouldn't be surprised at all for two linebackers. If Wilson is there in the first round and he looks like BPA for us at that point, he fits the mold of "big school, big athlete" that we have drafted so far in the first round. He's athletically gifted and could learn behind one of the best 3-4 inside backers to lace'em up for a year or so. Just like Lawrence Timmons.

If they don't draft a Corner early and often though, that would make me think either a.) Ike Taylor's new deal is already "done" or b.) that Keenan Lewis guy is much better than we all think or c.) we're going to assume that quarterback play in the AFC North isn't good enough to chew us up.

If "Keenan Lewis guy is much better than we all think," then the Steelers are better than the CIA and KGB at keeping secrets. IMO Lewis is a bust. I think this coming year is the final or next to last year of his rookie contract and he has Anthony Madison playing ahead of him. That pretty much tells us how bad he is and that has to be real bad.

RuthlessBurgher
04-01-2011, 03:26 PM
Acho is a Round 2 talent- if the coaches feel they can use him, then Chadman thinks he's good value. Chadman does wonder how bad our OL & CB's are in the coaches eyes...

I don't think our coaches ever have viewed the OL as bad as the fans have. They aren't naive but I think they have viewed coaching as part of the issue which is why Kugler was brought in. Also, in a team sport with a salary cap you have to make a conscious decision on which position unit you are going to economize verusus other units.

If you want to pay a franchise QB and have the premier LB group in the NFL you have to cut dollars in other place. IMO--it appears we have done so with the OL which is why I question whether they will really add another Round 1 salary to the OL just one year after adding Pouncey.

As far as our secondary I would be truly concerned if our coaches did not see a major issue there after getting picked apart numerous times over the past couple of seasons by any team with a good QB. You can't count on playing bad QBs in the play offs as a strategy for success.

I think Pouncey 2.0 is a unique situation, though, being able to reunite two guys who have been playing next to each other forever along the o-line where continuity, consistency, and teamwork are major keys to success. If Pouncey came within reseasonable pouncing position (pardon the pun), I have no doubt that we'd pounce on him.

I don't think we would consider other interior OL like Cannon, Watkins, or Hudson at #31 (if any were available at #63, though, we'd sure be interested) to be the best player available with our first pick (unless we traded down to stockpile 2nd and 3rd rounders).

If one of the top OT's like Carimi, Solder, or Sherrod happened to fall, though, I don't think we'd hesitate to jump on one of those guys either (any of those guys would like be considered to be BPA at #31).

Your point about non spending a ton on the OL is well taken, but if an OL is the BPA (especially since it would be at a position that could certainly be improved), then so be it.

Sugar
04-01-2011, 04:36 PM
Would Steelers fans be ready to cut their wrists if Pouncey and Harris were there at #31 and we took a LB instead of either of them? :stirpot

I would be fine with it, FWIW.

birtikidis
04-01-2011, 04:45 PM
Would Steelers fans be ready to cut their wrists if Pouncey and Harris were there at #31 and we took a LB instead of either of them? :stirpot

I would be fine with it, FWIW.
I would take Harris in the second.. Hell Mayock has him rated as a third rounder. I probably wouldn't take a LB in the first round this year. though, it depends on Woodley.

hawaiiansteel
04-02-2011, 08:41 PM
Chadman would have no problem selecting Acho in Round 2.



NFL Draft 2011: Could Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Sam Acho in Second Round?

By Dan Tylicki (Featured Columnist) on March 30, 2011

http://c0020036.cdn1.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/images/stories/D_Gigler/tomlin-texas.jpg

Steelers Might Look at Texas's Sam Acho in Round Two of 2011 NFL Draft

The Steelers don't necessarily need help on the edges of the front seven, but since many of the players there are over 30, adding youth there certainly can't hurt.

One of the players the Steelers were watching closely during Texas's Pro Day, aside from cornerback Aaron Williams, was DE/OLB Sam Acho. Aside from being one of the smartest guys in the draft, Acho had a great 40-yard dash time and looked impressive in 3-4 OLB drills.

Will the Steelers select Acho with the second round pick? As solid as he would be there, I can't see that happening. The Steelers will be concentrating on offensive linemen in the second round, or cornerbacks if they decide to grab Pouncey.

Besides, it's not likely Acho will be there, as his stock continues to rise. WalterFootball, for example, has him going 55th to the Chiefs, saying:

"The Chiefs have only one reliable pass-rusher. Adding a solid complement across from Tamba Hali would take Kansas City's defense to the next level."

Acho may be a nice fit with Pittsburgh, but as noted above, he's a great fit elsewhere too. Though they may have been impressed with him during Pro Day, Acho most likely won't be in the Black and Gold in 2011.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/6499 ... cond-round (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/649925-nfl-draft-2011-latest-pittsburgh-steelers-rumors-news-and-predictions/entry/57656-nfl-draft-2011-could-pittsburgh-steelers-draft-sam-acho-in-second-round)

StarSpangledSteeler
04-03-2011, 01:06 AM
We do need depth at LB. But that does not mean we need to draft all of them in rounds 1-3.

We are one of the best "LB training teams" in the NFL. Larry Foote was a 4th rounder. James Harrison was an UDFA. I'm not saying we wouldn't "like" a 1st round ILB, I'm saying we don't "need" one. We need elite help at CB and OL.

Oviedo
04-03-2011, 08:36 AM
If the Steelers draft a LB like Acho in Round 2 this year then I am going to start having serious concerns about Harrison's back!!!!!!!! Is there more than we have heard?

I could see a "depth" pick in the Round 4-6 range, but when you draft someone in Round 2 that would seem to be someone you are projecting as a starter in the next couple of years.

NJ-STEELER
04-03-2011, 04:35 PM
We do need depth at LB. But that does not mean we need to draft all of them in rounds 1-3.

We are one of the best "LB training teams" in the NFL. Larry Foote was a 4th rounder. James Harrison was an UDFA. I'm not saying we wouldn't "like" a 1st round ILB, I'm saying we don't "need" one. We need elite help at CB and OL.

$$ i think i'll throw something at the Tv if we draft an LB in the 1st 3 rounds.


didnt we lose a 4th round draft pick LB because there wasnt room for him on the roster?

flippy
04-04-2011, 04:13 PM
The biggest way to improve this defense could be to replace Farrior. I like Farrior as a run stopper. A blitzer. And an overall leader/headsy player.

But let's face it, he's not the guy making splash plays for us on 3rd downs. If he was better in coverage, we could do so much more on 3rd downs from blitzing to coverage and our DBs are good enough if we can get to the QB quickly - in fact all DBs look good when you get to the QB and look bad when you don't.

Everyone seems to think CB is our biggest problem, but I think it's getting to the QB. How many times did we have to send Troy, Timmons, Harrison, and Woodley all at the same time to try and manufacture pressure?

NJ-STEELER
04-04-2011, 07:58 PM
flip

we led the league in sacks last year and were 2nd last year.

how much more can we improve the pass rush? do you think we need to get 70 sacks as a defense to be considered a defense that "gets enough pressure"?

no defense is going to be able to get to the QB consistently in under the 2 seconds it takes them to find one of our corners/safeties leaving them 5 yards open

flippy
04-04-2011, 11:34 PM
I'd like to see stats somewhere on QB pressure as opposed to sacks. IMHO, we don't bring enough consistent pressure in critical situations. And even moreso, we don't generate pressure with the 4 man line we use so often against passing teams like NO, NE, etc.

Sacks are overrated imho. It's more about forcing the QB to do something with the ball faster than he wants to.

Having a big CB to jam someone at the line and delay some routes would help and sometimes it's just the nature of Lebeau's scheme that drives me nuts where we concede the short passing game.

Shawn
04-05-2011, 01:11 AM
Pressure is a two way street. DBs aid the front 7 by actually covering the WRs in front of them. Unfortunately we only have one that does that well. Consider how bad our secondary is...how much cushion they give and we still get some serious sackage I would say our front 7 is elite. You get a couple solid corners and a solid nickle and I see the pressure going way up. You have to give these guys some time.

hawaiiansteel
04-05-2011, 01:40 AM
Pressure is a two way street. DBs aid the front 7 by actually covering the WRs in front of them. Unfortunately we only have one that does that well. Consider how bad our secondary is...how much cushion they give and we still get some serious sackage I would say our front 7 is elite. You get a couple solid corners and a solid nickle and I see the pressure going way up. You have to give these guys some time.


I couldn't agree more, by virtually conceding short passes to wide open receivers we make it very difficult for our front 7 to get to the QB...and I can't recall too many of our sacks this past season being because our DBs covered anyone for any extended period of time.

Bmac should not be starting, Willie Gay shouldn't be the first CB off the bench and Anthony Madison shouldn't be on the field except for special teams duty. the jury is still out on Keenan Lewis and Crezdon Butler, but since they couldn't get on the field ahead of Anthony Madison I'm not inspired with confidence.

a good CB needs to be drafted early...even if he gets redshirted for his rookie season by LeBeau at least we've got the clock and process started. the sooner I never see Madison trying to play DB the better.

and if we find some CBs that can actually cover slot receivers our front 7 will be able to have more time to get to the QB. as Shawn stated, pressure is a two-way street.

The Sodfather
04-05-2011, 06:33 AM
You can't and won't get pressure on every play. It's impossible. At some point you have to be able to cover. Overall our pass rush is pretty good. Although getting some more/better pressure up the middle from the DL would be nice.

Plus, you can't get to a QB on a 3 step drop unless someone is completely unblocked anyway. That's our biggest problem, IMO. The quick passes.

hawaiiansteel
04-10-2011, 12:04 AM
Pittsburgh Steelers Will Draft A Linebacker In 2011 Draft

Posted by Tom Jenkins April 9, 2011


Itís no wonder that the Pittsburgh Steelersí linebackers are considered the bread and butter of the team, and consistently being one of the best overall units in the NFL. With the sheer numbers of linebackers that find their way to Pittsburgh via the NFL draft, along with master defensive coordinator and Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback D!ck LeBeau, plus linebacker mastermind Keith Butler itís to hard to believe that the overall talent of the unit will drop off anytime soon.

That includes any time that the Steelers have to Ďplug and playí that is, of course, replace a departed player, an injury substitution, etc. These guys just consistently get the job done and are widely regarded as the best in the business not only because of their physical tools, but because of the discipline instilled in them by LeBeau and Butler.

That being said, the Steelers linebackers are currently at a rough patch in the road, in a way at least.

LaMarr Woodley has been an animal for the Steelers defense, becoming the perfect bookend for James Harrison. Unfortunately, his contract ran out after this past season and while the team used the franchise tag on him, the incompetence of both sides in the Collective Bargaining Agreement essentially means that franchise tags donít matter. At all.

Which, of course means that Woodley is currently not under contract and may not be back with the team should there be a 2011-2012 season. That, however, is a highly unlikely scenario, but nevertheless a possible outcome.

On the other side of the defensive line, (after a strenuous climb over Mount Hampton) there is former Defensive Player Of The Year, Harrison. Who recently had some surgical work done on his back. Now, he will be a relatively young 34 next month, and by young Iím of course referencing the fact that he truly didnít get an NFL workout until about five or so years ago, which works in his favor.

But, aging coupled with back troubles isnít something that extends NFL careers. Though, as it currently stands, Harrison is currently one of the fiercest pass rushers in the league today and doesnít seem concerned with the surgeries nor his age. And considering his body of work, if itís good enough for him, then itís good enough for me.

Moving inside the hash marks, James Farrior is a well known presence in the middle of the Steelers defense, having started there for nine consecutive years. He is currently 36 years old, and despite having a very good season last year, is certainly slowing down.

Farrior will likely call it quits after this coming season, and I highly doubt heíll have any regrets, having won two Super Bowls and been to another, having nearly won a Defensive Player Of The Year Award himself, and having been the leader of a dominating defense since the moment he suited up in the black and gold.

Next to Farrior youíll find Lawrence Timmons, a quick, agile pass rusher that is currently playing inside linebacker due to two superstars occupying those positions on the Steelers defense. Though, moving inside hasnít hurt Timmons performance, in fact it has allowed him to round out his game in a near perfect fashion. Having the size and strength to bring down tough inside runners, while also having the speed to cover tight ends and backs down the field (unless that back is named Ray Rice, of course).

Timmons rookie contract will expire next year, and with the way the Steelers groom linebackers thereís absolutely no guarantee that he will return, though fans would be pretty upset if he was allowed to walk. However, possibly the best case scenario for Timmons himself would come after Harrison retires, or Woodley signs with another team which would more than likely allow him to ply his trade on the outside.

But, with the current set up, the Steelers are optimized for both rushing the quarterback and stopping the run, as both inside linebackers are able to get inside of the offensive linemen and create havoc in any backfield. But, that versatility brought by the inside also allows LeBeau to get creative with his blitzing schemes by dropping either outside linebacker back in pass coverage and bringing the heat from the inside on obvious running downs.

Behind those four, the Steelers have Keyaron Fox, Stevenson Sylvester, Larry Foote, and Jason Worilds.

Fox has stepped in as a started due to injuries from time to time and has performed pretty well, returning a Brett Favre interception for a touchdown, while Sylvester has outperformed expectations on special teams, Foote has been an adequate starter and backup during his tenure with the Steelers, and Worilds has certainly gotten off to a good start to what looks to be a promising career as an outside linebacker for the Steelers.

Fox however, likely wonít be re-signed.

Rumor has it that Sylvester may claim a starting spot pending performance in training camp and the pre-season, if he can show that he take it to Farrior during those times, then he may very well be the first of the trio above to earn a starting spot on the team.

Thatís a big Ďifí however, because Farrior is a competitor to the bone and wonít relinquish his spot inside easily.

With questions surrounding the current corps beyond just next season, the Steelers will once again show why they generally have a robust and lethal linebacking corps by drafting at least one more linebacker in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Some possible names floating around Steeler Nation are Sam Acho, from Texas who projects to be an outside linebacker and Martez Wilson, an inside prospect from Illinois.

I donít predict the team taking a linebacker in the first three rounds, but would be extremely surprised if they donít draft at least one, for depth and to breed healthy competition.

http://www.steelerschronicle.com/2011/0 ... raft.html/ (http://www.steelerschronicle.com/2011/04/pittsburgh-steelers-will-draft-a-linebacker-in-2011-draft.html/)

focosteeler
04-10-2011, 01:56 AM
its interesting that he thinks that Timmons will move outside after someone goes. I think Timmons really showed that he can be a beastly ILB and i wo uld hope that they would let him continue to improve there rather than move positions.

NJ-STEELER
04-11-2011, 05:44 AM
http://blogs.nfl.com/2011/04/08/data-po ... re-scarce/ (http://blogs.nfl.com/2011/04/08/data-points-sacks-becoming-more-scarce/)


http://nfldotcom.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/screen-shot-2011-04-08-at-1-29-00-pm1.png?w=575&h=326