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hawaiiansteel
01-31-2012, 10:15 PM
The Top Five Positions of Need for the Steelers in the 2012 NFL Draft

by Neal Coolong on Jan 31, 2012

http://cdn3.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/2897983/50857_Titans_Steelers_Football.jpg

Millions of things could happen between the time immediately after the Colts draft Andrew Luck with the top pick of the 2012 Draft and when the Steelers go on the clock with, presumably, the 24th pick. That makes it next to impossible to state the likelihood right now of any one player becoming the next Steelers rookie.

It's even less likely to make such predictions after the first round, so instead of trying to do that, here are the top five positions I see the Steelers addressing with their first-round pick.

And let's just say I see trading up being more appealing than in recent years.

5. Offensive tackle

Just hear me out. With the return of Willie Colon (hopefully for a period of time measured in at least months, instead of plays), and Marcus Gilbert's move to left tackle, the Steelers are likely to keep Jonathan Scott as the main back-up to both positions, and re-sign Trai Essex and his versatility instead of Max Starks.

Continuing on the path of taking offensive linemen high in the draft will pan out, but the problems the Steelers had last season had far more to do with the interior of the line than on the edge. The trend of rushing outside linebackers has been stunting into the middle, where pass protectors are more prone to misreads either to their left or right. While the Steelers tackles haven't been great the last two seasons, there are more pressing needs. Expect a tackle to be taken with the Steelers' third or four pick.

4. Safety

FS Ryan Clark had one of his best seasons, and perhaps the Steelers underestimated his absence in their playoff loss at Denver. However, the size of pass catchers in the NFL is increasing at a high rate, and a bigger safety with stronger pass coverage skills could be a benefit.

Along with that, SS Troy Polamalu plays as fearlessly as Clark does, and that kind of physicality will lead to injuries. S Will Allen is not likely to be back in 2012, and the Steelers need to start looking toward the future of both of those positions.

3. Nose tackle

The retirement of Chris Hoke and the impending contract issue with Casey Hampton leaves only Steve McLendon at a critical position. McLendon is extremely strong and is improving greatly, but isn't ready to be the full-time starter. It's likely Hampton will accept a lesser contract to stay in Pittsburgh, but 2012 will be his last year in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh needs to address the nose tackle position, preferably with someone more athletic than McLendon.

2. Offensive guard

Chris Kemoeatu will not be back in 2012, leaving the Steelers with LG Doug Legursky and RG Ramon Foster. Both will make the team, but an upgrade is needed. After failed draft picks Kraig Urbik (doing just fine in Buffalo) and Keith Williams (on the Bills practice squad), the Steelers have a lack of depth at the position. They've won games with Foster and Legursky, but the reality is they'd be back-ups on far more teams than they'd be starters.

Georgia's Cordy Glenn could be the kind of swing player (can play both guard and tackle) the Steelers love drafting, and could be available at 24. Don't rule out the possibility of trading up to land Stanford's David DeCastro, though.

Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele is another swing prospect who could be available in the second round.

1. Inside linebacker

Inside linebacker barely finishes ahead of guard. Yes, I'm aware of the state of the offensive line. The issue here isn't talent as much as it's depth. Depth, not only on the team but in the draft.

The Steelers have to be eyeing Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict and Alabama's Dont'a Hightower with great interest. They are both big and hit with serious power, and can crush a running back downhill. Burfict is a bit fiery, but would be a great candidate to shadow a savvy vet like James Farrior for a while to not only learn the complex buck linebacker position, but learn how to handle himself on and off the field like a pro.

Hightower is probably better suited for a 3-4 inside linebacker because he has better coverage skills. He seems just too talented to last until 24, but, like DeCastro, he may be the kind of player the Steelers need to trade up to acquire. Mack ILB Lawrence Timmons doesn't seem to be moving over to the buck, and Stevenson Sylvester was beyond underwhelming in his only significant snap count of the year against New England, and outside of practice squad LB Mortty Ivy, there isn't anyone backing up Farrior or LB Larry Foote (the contracts of Foote and Farrior are both up after 2012). They need to address this position throughout the draft, and they're going to need to make a decision on their future at this position.

That brings an interesting wrinkle to the speculation mill. If the Steelers simply don't seem as interested in finding Farrior's replacement it leads to the question of what the defense will be in the near future. A middle linebacker's role in a Tampa 2 defense (the same defense Steelers coach Mike Tomlin studied under Tony Dungy, who, incidentally, took much of it from former Steelers coach Chuck Knoll in the 70s) isn't as complex as the responsibilities a buck LB has in a 3-4. Timmons has the athleticism to play in deeper coverage, a requirement in the Tampa 2, and having one less inside/middle linebacker being on the field could be the reason why the Steelers haven't really gone after inside linebackers in recent drafts.

All of that certainly is a stretch, especially considering the Steelers play a lot of Cover 2 now as it is. But there are good (potentially great) players who will be available when the Steelers go on the clock.

We just know it won't be a quarterback. We don't think.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... mock-draft (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/1/31/2754728/steelers-positions-of-need-2012-nfl-mock-draft)

Chadman
01-31-2012, 11:39 PM
The positions are right, the gradings of the positions are questionable.

For Chadman the list is-
1. NT
2. ILB
3. OG
4. FS
5. OT

steeler_george
02-01-2012, 12:00 PM
This a pretty complicated question, but it is not really the steelers way to draft for position, rather BPA and value.

Yes, I agree we are awfully thin at NT, almost to the point of desperation to fill that position, but who is to say that the top 2 will be there when we select? Would we be over drafting if we select Ta'a amu at 24 when we could probably draft him in the second?

Even if we get our NT of the future, is he going to pan out to take the pressure off the ILBERS? Is he going to grasp the play book? Is he going to win the position from our penciled in starter, Steve mClenden.

In all honesty, I think the organization is going to look for a FA to fill that position, not saying a super star but they need a known commodity.

With that said, I think the biggest need to draft is OL. We need quality athletes who will push the other starters for their money. If we ever get an above average OL, this team is going to be special. Way too many weapons at our disposal to not succeed.

And as for safety and ILB and OLB we do need to uprade our depth there and groom for the future.

But here is my list:
1 & 2) OL a player who can come in with flexibility to start at LG now, but also have the capacity to even push Gilbert and Colon.

3) NT is the key to the 3-4 to allow the LBers make the plays. Casey was a phenomenal player, but as we seen with Hoke and Mclenon. A smart player that knows his gaps, and can be average to solid will allow the surrounding players ILB, OLB, DE make the plays.

4-5) TIE.....ILB, OLB, Saftey, and will even suggest a 2nd TE will be needed for depth. I don't think anyone drafted this year will make a big contibution and it is too early to give up on SLY, Worilds, even Mundy ( which I AM NOT A BIG FAN OF).

Dee Dub
02-01-2012, 12:58 PM
I can agree with most of this. I've been saying all along that ILB, and in particular, Dont'a Hightower is probably the one player who at 24 could come in and start right away. He played in Saban's 3-4 and it is just as complexed as LeBeau's. I say this because I do not believe Cordy Glenn is going to be there at 24. If he were maybe a different story for me. In my opinion Glenn is dominate at an elite position (LT). He dominated in the SEC and we heard Heath Evans, Mike Mayock, and Charles Davis say he dominated Quinton Coples, Courtney Upshaw, and Melvin Ingram at the Senior Bowl. And Glenn is versatile. He can play LT or G. Those type of players are gone by pick 15.

Now..I dont agree that Hightower may not be there at 24 and the Steelers may have to trade up for him. I honestly think he is a 28-35 pick. Reason I would take him at 24 is because of the fact that he could come in on day one and start, and because he probably wont get past Baltimore when they pick. And I also disagree with the writers assessment that Hightower is a better suit for a 3-4 than Burfict because of Hightower's coverage skills. Neither one are very good in coverage but what gives Hightower the edge is the fact that he has played in a 3-4.

Dee Dub
02-01-2012, 01:03 PM
A couple other things from this article. You cant count on Willie Colon when he hasnt been able to play for the past two years. And with Dick LeBeau coming back another year and Keith Butler not taking the Colts position as D-coordinator, there is no way this team is moving to a Tampa 2 defense. This time next year Keith Butler will be in charge of the Steelers defense and he is a 3-4 zone blitz guy. He doesnt turn down the Colts position without being told he is the guy next year.

Shawn
02-01-2012, 01:16 PM
IMO, recent transactions and rumors have made certain "need" positions becomes less of a need.

NT-I was thinking this would be #1, but I'm not so sure. With rumors about Hood moving inside, and Mc playing well...I'm not sure this is a pressing need anymore.

Safety-The signing of Rolle might allow us to put this off another year, so that we can see what we have in Rolle.

OT-This shouldn't be a huge need. We have 2 tackle spots and three decent players to fill them. That sounds like a good problem to have. Personally, I would like to sign Starks again (vet min), move Colon inside and keep Gilbert at RT.

OG- With an eye to filling Kemo's spot I would like to see the Steelers take an OG in the first 2 rounds. I do believe this to be a high need.

So my needs would go something like this...

1) ILB
2) OG
3) NT
4) FS
5) OT

steelz09
02-01-2012, 01:50 PM
I think BPA between OG or NT.

The only question I have to whether the Steelers will put that much of an investment at DL (3 first rounders).

Personally, I think NT outweights the other DL positions but still....

OG is a huge need. If Glenn is availalbe, you need to pick him. But what if the top NT is also available?

Dee Dub
02-01-2012, 02:19 PM
I think BPA between OG or NT.

The only question I have to whether the Steelers will put that much of an investment at DL (3 first rounders).

Personally, I think NT outweights the other DL positions but still....

OG is a huge need. If Glenn is availalbe, you need to pick him. But what if the top NT is also available?

What if at 24 there is a higher rated ILB than the BPA at OG and NT?

And if you ask me, Cordy Glenn is the second best LT in this draft. And in time (with more experience), he may turn out to be the best. Any team that puts him at G is not getting the most out of him. IMO.

phillyesq
02-01-2012, 03:27 PM
I think BPA between OG or NT.

The only question I have to whether the Steelers will put that much of an investment at DL (3 first rounders).

Personally, I think NT outweights the other DL positions but still....

OG is a huge need. If Glenn is availalbe, you need to pick him. But what if the top NT is also available?

What if at 24 there is a higher rated ILB than the BPA at OG and NT?

And if you ask me, Cordy Glenn is the second best LT in this draft. And in time (with more experience), he may turn out to be the best. Any team that puts him at G is not getting the most out of him. IMO.

I think the Steelers should take the BPA between OG/OT, NT and ILB. Two years, three years, five years down the road, we'll be looking at the impact provided by the player selected at #24, not which of these three needs was the more significant.

If the Steelers get a stud at NT and OG, then I'm comfortable with another year of Larry Foote or James Farrior at ILB, with either Stevenson Sylvester or another mid-late round rookie filling in. If the value at NT is not there, and the Steelers go with Hampton/low-level veteran/McClendon (or even Hood) at NT with a stud ILB and OG being worked in, I'd be happy with that as well.

RuthlessBurgher
02-01-2012, 04:11 PM
Personally, I think NT outweights the other DL positions

Literally as well as figuratively. :lol:

Oviedo
02-01-2012, 04:18 PM
Go to a 4-3 and you don't need to find that unique, elusive NT that more and more teams want and you fix your problem at replacing Farrior at ILB. I like it :stirpot

Seriously though, what is not addressed is that we are about 3-4 defensive linemen short of being able to run an effective 4-3 even after you would presumably move Woodley to DE. I would have to see us draft two DL this draft to even begin to think that we would consider going to a 4-3.

mazze
02-01-2012, 04:29 PM
NT
OG/OT
ILB
S
OG/OT

Maybe they'll get lucky and someone like Chris Scott will finally put it all together.

steelblood
02-01-2012, 04:46 PM
OT-Yes, we have Colon and Gilbert. They might be effective. But, the number one need for this team is to protect Ben and improve the offensive line. The best way to do this is to add a tackle who can pass protect better than the two we have. Colon could play guard if all three are healthy. Or the rookie could play guard while getting acclimated.

FS-Clark may have another year in him. But, in this league a ballhawking FS makes a huge difference. We could use one.

OG-We need to run block more consistently and pass protect better

ILB-I like Sylvestor and believe he could start. But, we will likely cut Foote and Farrior. We need some depth and a player capable of starting.

NT-McClendon and Hood could be serviceable. But, it would be nice to have someone better.


From this list, we may not have a shot at a decent OT in the first. There may not be a single game changing FS in this draft (next season's looks better). OG and NT might be reaches in the first.

It does look likely that we'd be able to draft an ILB at the end of the first. Burflict, Hightower, and Zach Brown are all possibilities. I like Brown as he is actually good in coverage and as a blitzer. He is a bit undersized, but in this pass happy league he would provide us with quite a weapon. I have read that Brown has some attitude issues. But, I think he has a very high ceiling.

focosteeler
02-01-2012, 04:59 PM
Neither one are very good in coverage but what gives Hightower the edge is the fact that he has played in a 3-4.


my question is which do you think has the higher ceiling?? I would rather take the one who will be all-pro after a couple of year than the one who could come in, start immediatly and be mediocre for the rest of his career.

Chadman
02-01-2012, 06:40 PM
Question regarding ILB- what sort of player is needed there?

The Steelers are looking to replace James Farrior, who for all intent & purpose, has been more of a cerebal player than a physical player for a number of years.

A SMART player that is good at diagnosing what is in front of him is what is required.

The likely 1st round ILB are all very exciting- but they are physical players, not mental players.

Audie Cole might be the best fit.

NJ-STEELER
02-01-2012, 06:42 PM
1. OG/OT - any help along the line. a LT would allow us to keep gilbert at RT where he could be dominant. will he be anything more then average on the left?

2. whats left from OT/OG


3. TE. if we're going to run as many 2/3 TE sets, then we have to get better then DJ as the 2nd guy. he's the weakest cog in out of our 22 starters


i'm with shawn on the NT situation. if hood plays at NT, its not really a need. plus, it gets out #1 from last year (hopefully) into the starting lineup

4. FS - we have the yougn corners form last year's draft. how about a young saefty to fill in for clark (mundy looks like a decent SS fill in)

5.WR - a big target, that is. much rather see a big #1 type wr drafted if say a jeffery or young is there at 24 then an NT or ILB... draft an ILB run stuffer later in the draft. with 2 all pro's on the outside and a high #1 in timmons next to him, a fill in could perform pretty well IMO. like olsavlsky when he played. i know we're tight with cap space, but think a small signing like a bradie james would be ideal there

RuthlessBurgher
02-02-2012, 10:26 AM
3. TE. if we're going to run as many 2/3 TE sets, then we have to get better then DJ as the 2nd guy. he's the weakest cog in out of our 22 starters

Weslye Saunders is already leaps and bounds better than Johnson. The next O.C. should be able to realize this within the first 10 minutes of working with the team.

hawaiiansteel
02-02-2012, 03:50 PM
Steelers 2012 Team Needs: Inside Linebacker

February 2nd, 2012


The final installment of the Steelers 2012 Team Needs is Inside Linebacker. It may seem like a back door need as of right now but when it comes to Salary Cap crunch time it may become a front line need. The Steelers are anywhere from $22-$27 million over the cap depending upon who you talk to and have to be below the salary cap by the start of the new league year.

Two players who very well could be on the chopping block are James Farrior and Larry Foote. One or the other or even both could be cut to save in cap space. Between the two of them the Steelers could save almost $6 million in cap space off of the number they need to get down to.

Foote would be a $3 million dollar saving if he was released. Farrior would save the Steelers $2.8 million. Both guys have bonus numbers which are right around a million. So instead of paying 9 million for the two of them we could pay less then 3. That is a much better number for guys who do not play every down. They are splitting time with one another and this is to much to spend on that.

That could make this position an extremely big need in a hurry. If we were to just release one we may be able to make it another year. There is a good chance that both could go. The only player left on the roster to replace them at that time would be Stevenson Sylvester. He is not ready nor may he ever be to be a starter on this team.

If the Steelers were to look in free agency for a replacement they really do not have to look far. They could stay in the division with D’Qwell Jackson from Cleveland. He is only 28 and had 158 tackles last season and was a beast versus the Steelers. Him next to Lawrence Timmons would be a great middle. If they can not get Jackson they may want to look at former Penn State Linebacker Dan Connor. Connor played well this season after Jon Beason was lost for the season. Beason will be back next year and Connor will need a new team join. He could be a good option if the need arises.

http://media.al.com/bamabeat/photo/hightower-spr-prac-bol-alcomjpg-1f3206cb727276a8_medium.jpg

The Steelers could also go to the draft. That is where I would be looking. The Steelers could take Alabama Linebacker Dont’a Hightower in the first round. He is a thumper who could replace both of these guys from day one. He is my number one prospect for the Steelers in this draft. If I had to choose between a rookie and a free agent this is the way I would go. At least at this position.

There are options out there for the Steelers. If they were to keep one of the two linebackers between Foote and Farrior I think I would keep Farrior. Even though he is a liablity in the passing game I would rather have his leadership and his teaching ability to whoever the Steelers were to bring in if it was through the draft. He is this teams captain and even if he splits time with someone like Hightower next season he would be better for the team.

http://bleedblackandgold.com/blog/2012/ ... inebacker/ (http://bleedblackandgold.com/blog/2012/02/02/steelers-2012-team-needs-inside-linebacker/)

Dee Dub
02-02-2012, 04:02 PM
For me these are a couple of no brainers.

First one is...

Foote would be a $3 million dollar saving if he was released. Farrior would save the Steelers $2.8 million


Second one is...
The Steelers could also go to the draft. That is where I would be looking. The Steelers could take Alabama Linebacker Dont’a Hightower in the first round. He is a thumper who could replace both of these guys from day one.

NJ-STEELER
02-03-2012, 01:15 AM
3. TE. if we're going to run as many 2/3 TE sets, then we have to get better then DJ as the 2nd guy. he's the weakest cog in out of our 22 starters

Weslye Saunders is already leaps and bounds better than Johnson. The next O.C. should be able to realize this within the first 10 minutes of working with the team.

i dont think wes is like these wr/te hybrid types like we're seeing recently. IMO, he's more of a hheath miller type, which isnt bad, but i'd like to grab a guy that can get down the field. maybe an ex basketball player

then they can fight it out for the #2 spot

Slapstick
02-03-2012, 09:39 AM
I don't know that the Steelers want to change their offense enough to make one of the WR/TE hybrid types a focal point of the offense...

They have good WRs to go downfield...they need more physical types for the short and intermediate range, and to block due to the absence of a FB....

JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
02-03-2012, 12:02 PM
I think things could shuffle by need when we see who gets released. My feeling is Hampton won't be able to play and even if he restructures he will have to go on the PUP. So I think NT will be a high priority no matter what. They will need a starter & when you can't pencil a guy in there & depth is weak (Hoke retiring), I think it will be addresses in rounds 1 or 2.

I think the need at G is already a high priority. Kemo more than likely is on the outs. Even if he restructures, his play has declined. Injuries...Age...There is no turning it around. Bronco is a very good back-up swing guy. Foster has been good but not really that "true guard" you would like. Meredith & Scott are unknowns. Sitting here...I would say that has to be addresses early too. How early lies in the staff's confidence in the guys I mentioned that we know nothing about because we haven't seen them play enough. No matter how the feel, I still feel G has to be addressed no later than the 3rd round & could be addressed as early as the 1st.

I would pencil in ILB next. I really don't think the Steelers will leave themselves without 2 starters in place no matter what they have to do cap wise. One of Farrior or Foote will be retained for 2012. A future starter will be drafted. Now, he may push to start this year. He may have to compete with Sylvester. I'm just not confident that Sylvester is anything but a back-up / ST ace. There is a role for him even if he isn't a starter so he isn't going anywhere. Having only that one start to grade him didn't make me think he is the ILB of the future based on his play. Unfair to him because there could be many reasons for struggling his first start but I have only that to base it on. The only way I think the priority changes is if the need to sign a FA to start. That would mean they are moving on without both Farrior & Foote. I don't think it is likely but the check book leaves this as a possibility. A Dan Connor type of signing. If I had to guess though, I think the draft will be where it is addressed somewhere in the first 4 rounds.

The next position would be Safety. They are set at the starters but they are on the wrong side of 30. Time to get a starter of the future in the mix to learn behind Polamalu & Clark. I think Allen is a cap cut so there is an open spot up for grabs if Mundy is retained. Mundy will be a cheap quality back-up so I don't see him goin anywhere. Just like ILB, I think it will be addressed in the first 4 rounds. ILB & Safety might not be as high as NT & G but they could go earlier than expected if a guy the Steelers love falls to them.

This next one is difficult. I am almost tempted to say G again. Could also use a raw LT to develop. That could also be the "G" they select earlier ala Glenn. Being that OL was mentioned, I will move to the next position. Speed between the 20's is a threat. In the redzone it disappears because the field is shortened. This has been a struggle of the Steelers over the last couple season. Defenses are not afraid to press when the field is shortened and can walk the Safeties up and stone the redzone run. Working against the run blitz in the redzone makes the QB have to get rid of the ball faster off PA and if the WRs can't beat the bump early the QB takes a sack. Sound familiar? An athletic TE can run away from the LB / S coverage and work the seam & sideline quickly but that needs to be paired with another threat to be productive. That threat has to be on the outside one-on-one to make the S pick a hash. So my next position of need is a big WR. The Steelers are really close to perhaps putting together one of the best WR groups in the history of the NFL if they can keep them all together. Amazing to say that the group does not include Ward. There are alot of the big bodied WR in rounds 3-5 who could turn into something special. Being that there is more need at other positions...I feel the Steelers will look later. I personally have Greg Childs. Childs was a kid who may have come out early after 2010 but suffered a knee injury. Came back for 2011 and didn't look 100%. Might have been a 2nd rounder if he completed 2010 and came out. His injury was to his patellar tendon which usually takes a full year to return for form. Big drop off in 2011 but when he regains his form he could be a steal. Word is his training at Athletes’ Performance is going well.