Who is expected to step up?
This is a topic that always intrigues me....every off season.
We have a ton of names on our list of once hopefuls. Many of them are currently filling positions of need. Some of these guys are younger than others but none are too old. It seems like they are afterthoughts as we discuss our draft needs, but can any of these guys step it up? We have seen very little of these guys on Sundays, but they have been kept on the roster by the coaches. Do they see something and have high expectations? Are they too proud to cut players who were drafted so highly? Or are they just bodies who are keeping positions warm until real players come to town? Take a look at this list and tell me what you think.
Player - year
Joe Burnett - 2nd
Tony Hills - 3rd
Ziggy Hood - 2nd
Keenan Lewis - 2nd
Limas Sweed - 3rd
Kraig Urbik - 2nd
First name that sticks out is Hood. First round rook last year doesn't really belong on this list. He did as much as any Steeler defensive rookie seems to ever do so lets just wait and see. Even if he does step it up we still have needs at DE as Smith and Keisel age.
At CB we have the two rooks from last year - Burnett and Lewis. Burnett played more last season, but that had more to do with his ability to play on ST than that they thought him the better CB. I think that we will find out at the draft how the team feels about these two guys. It is obvious that we will not pass on a CB due to the fact that we have Gay as a starter. So if we do pass then it would likely mean that there is high hope for at least one of the two.
Hills was drafted out of Texas as a gamble, similar to Dennis Dixon. He was once a top prospect but serious injury knocked him down the charts. If he was to recover fully and return to form then he would be a first round worthy player. If he can't return to form then he is a wasted pick. It really should not surprise anyone that it has taken this long due to the severity of the injury, but they have kept him around even though the guy has yet to dress in his career. I can't see them giving him another redshirt year. If he makes it out of camp this year then he does so to dress. We have enough position flex guys who can take up a roster spot and backup at OT. If he makes it out then he is the true backup and will be expected to produce when called upon. Perhaps he is counted on to replace Colon after his RFA tenure.
Urbik is rarely mentioned around here as being in the mix. He was a highly rated third round pick last season. He didn't dress and suddenly has fallen off the map? With a new OL coach coming in maybe he is ready. The RG position is far from being carved in stone. Essex, Foster, Stapleton, and ........Urbik. It would be great to eliminate that need from this draft.