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Thread: Pete Prisco: Steelers' positional analysis and needs

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    Pete Prisco: Steelers' positional analysis and needs

    Steelers needs: In doubt until Roethlisberger's issues resolved

    April 3, 2010
    By Pete Prisco
    CBSSports.com Senior Writer


    This has not been a good offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers so far, but there's a chance it could get even worse.

    If quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is formally charged with some kind of sexual assault in the Georgia incident he was involved in last month, the Steelers might be playing 2010 without their starting quarterback.

    Roethlisberger, for the second time, has his name being smeared because he's linked to an alleged sexual assault. There is no charge now -- we have to remember that -- but there still could be.

    The Steelers have asked Roethlisberger to stay away from their facility until the Georgia situation is cleared up. Whether he's guilty of the crime or not, he is definitely guilty of putting himself in some dumb situations.

    In addition, receiver Santonio Holmes is facing legal troubles in another club incident. Steelers ownership is said to be livid about the happenings.

    If Roethlisberger isn't on the field, the Steelers would have big problems next season -- no matter who they draft.

    It's tough times in Pittsburgh for sure. The biggest decision for the Steelers' future won't come on draft day, but rather from a prosecutor's office in Georgia.

    Positional analysis:

    QB: This is a position of strength if Roethlisberger is cleared. If not, it's a major problem. Roethlisberger is one of the NFL's best, but he can't make throws from the courtroom or, worse, prison. He has to be on the field. The Steelers don't have much behind him. Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch are the backups. Dixon is a raw player who has ability. Batch is a veteran who shouldn't be asked to start at this point in his career.

    RB: Rashard Mendenhall proved to be a big-time runner last season. After a slow start to his season, including being inactive for a game, he showed the Steelers they have a tough inside runner. That is why they let Willie Parker go. Mewelde Moore is the backup and third-down back. Frank Summers, Isaac Redman and Justin Vincent are the backups. They could use a young runner here.

    WR: The big question for the Steelers is when Hines Ward starts to show his age. He continues to play at a high level, but he is starting to slow down. Holmes is the star of the unit now, a deep speed player who can stretch a defense. Mike Wallace had a sensational rookie season and should be even more of factor in the offense this season. They brought back Antwan Randle-El and signed Arnaz Battle for depth. It will be interesting to see how Limas Sweed does, he has been a disappointment after being a second-round pick in 2008.

    TE: Heath Miller might be the best combo tight end in the league. He can catch the ball, but he's also a crunching blocker in the run game. He is a security blanket of sorts for Roethlisberger in the passing game, especially inside the 20. Sean McHugh, David Johnson and Matt Spaeth are the primary backups and they are good enough. Spaeth has some pass-receiving skills.

    OL: This unit had some struggles last season. Some scouts thought right tackle Willie Colon played at a Pro Bowl level, but others didn't agree. He is a capable player. Left tackle Max Starks had a good game against Jared Allen, which shows his ability, but struggled against some lesser players. Left guard Chris Kemoeatu is the best player on the line. Center Justin Hartwig is solid, but not great. Right guard is a problem area with Trai Essex being average at best. The top backups are Tony Hills at tackle and Ramon Foster and Kraig Urbik at guard. They also added veteran tackle Jon Scott.

    DL: This has always been a strong area in the Steelers' 3-4 defense. They did re-sign nose tackle Casey Hampton, which is a plus. He is a big part of their run defense. Chris Hoke is his backup. End Aaron Smith, the line's best player, had his season cut short by a torn rotator cuff and it showed in the results. He is expected back full strength for camp. They need him. Brett Keisel, the other end, is an effort player who plays hard all the time to make up for his limited athletic ability. Look for 2009 first-round pick Ziggy Hood to push Keisel for the starting job. Sunny Harris is another young backup to watch.

    LB: The four linebackers are what makes the defense go. The outside rushers are top notch in LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison. Woodley started slow last season, but really came on in the second half. Harrison started fast and faded. His age might be an issue. Inside linebackers James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons are both good players with Timmons having a chance to be a really good one. He has great athletic ability. The backups are Larry Foote, Andre Frazier and Keyaron Fox.

    DB: This is a concern area. The corners were a major disappointment last season. They are in dire need of an upgrade. William Gay opened as the starter but was benched for veteran Deshea Townsend. Ike Taylor starts on the other side, and his play tailed off from the Super Bowl season. Joe Burnett, Keenan Lewis, David Pittman and Trae Williams are the backups. One of those will have to push Gay. With Troy Polamalu missing so much time, the back two struggled. Ryan Clark wasn't as good as the year before either. The Steelers need a healthy Polamalu and need Clark to regain his form of 2008. Ryan Mundy returns and Will Allen was signed as a free agent as a backup.

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    Re: Pete Prisco: Steelers' positional analysis and needs

    my comments on Pete Prisco's Steelers' QB analysis in green -

    Positional analysis:

    QBs – Ben Roethlisberger, Dennis Dixon, Charlie Batch


    This is a position of strength if Roethlisberger is cleared. If not, it's a major problem. Roethlisberger is one of the NFL's best, but he can't make throws from the courtroom or, worse, prison. He has to be on the field. The Steelers don't have much behind him. Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch are the backups. Dixon is a raw player who has ability. Batch is a veteran who shouldn't be asked to start at this point in his career.


    Ben is only 28 and there’s a promising young QB behind him in Dennis Dixon, so we might be looking for a young developmental rookie in a late round to be a “camp arm” and stash on the practice squad for a year until Batch retires next season.

    but if the Steelers burn a high pick (rounds 1-3) in this year's draft on a QB, i think that will be a clear and distinct signal that there is a problem with Big Ben.

    i also believe that if Ben for whatever reason can't play for awhile, we will make a concentrated effort to acquire Byron Leftwich.

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    Re: Pete Prisco: Steelers' positional analysis and needs

    Pete Prisco's RB analysis, my comments in green -


    RB: Rashard Mendenhall proved to be a big-time runner last season. After a slow start to his season, including being inactive for a game, he showed the Steelers they have a tough inside runner. That is why they let Willie Parker go. Mewelde Moore is the backup and third-down back. Frank Summers, Isaac Redman and Justin Vincent are the backups. They could use a young runner here.


    RB – Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, Stefan Logan, Isaac Redman, Frank Summers, Justin Vincent.


    I believe the Steelers will use a mid-to-low (3-7) round pick on a RB. Although the loss of Willie Parker makes a higher pick a possibility, it seems unlikely as Mendenhall and Moore are the top two RBs and Frank Summers is reportedly looking good so far in pre-season workouts.

    but another RB will definitely be added, as Tomlin wants competition.

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    Re: Pete Prisco: Steelers' positional analysis and needs

    In the unlikely event that Ben is suspended I would rather see Dixon than anyone else. He has electrifying speed. I think proper use of that can open up his passing game and his confidence and can make him a great backup option once Ben (hopefully) returns.

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    Re: Pete Prisco: Steelers' positional analysis and needs

    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel
    Pete Prisco's RB analysis, my comments in green -


    RB: Rashard Mendenhall proved to be a big-time runner last season. After a slow start to his season, including being inactive for a game, he showed the Steelers they have a tough inside runner. That is why they let Willie Parker go. Mewelde Moore is the backup and third-down back. Frank Summers, Isaac Redman and Justin Vincent are the backups. They could use a young runner here.


    RB – Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, Stefan Logan, Isaac Redman, Frank Summers, Justin Vincent.


    I believe the Steelers will use a mid-to-low (3-7) round pick on a RB. Although the loss of Willie Parker makes a higher pick a possibility, it seems unlikely as Mendenhall and Moore are the top two RBs and Frank Summers is reportedly looking good so far in pre-season workouts.

    but another RB will definitely be added, as Tomlin wants competition.
    RB is the thinest position on this team. If anyone thinks adding a late round filler player is going to be enough if Mendy go out hurt then expect the offense to grind to a halt or get use to throwing the ball 40+ time every game.

    We have nothing behind Mendy. Time to wake up and realize we need a talented RB early.
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    Re: Pete Prisco: Steelers' positional analysis and needs

    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel
    Pete Prisco's RB analysis, my comments in green -


    RB: Rashard Mendenhall proved to be a big-time runner last season. After a slow start to his season, including being inactive for a game, he showed the Steelers they have a tough inside runner. That is why they let Willie Parker go. Mewelde Moore is the backup and third-down back. Frank Summers, Isaac Redman and Justin Vincent are the backups. They could use a young runner here.


    RB – Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, Stefan Logan, Isaac Redman, Frank Summers, Justin Vincent.


    I believe the Steelers will use a mid-to-low (3-7) round pick on a RB. Although the loss of Willie Parker makes a higher pick a possibility, it seems unlikely as Mendenhall and Moore are the top two RBs and Frank Summers is reportedly looking good so far in pre-season workouts.

    but another RB will definitely be added, as Tomlin wants competition.
    RB is the thinest position on this team. If anyone thinks adding a late round filler player is going to be enough if Mendy go out hurt then expect the offense to grind to a halt or get use to throwing the ball 40+ time every game.

    We have nothing behind Mendy. Time to wake up and realize we need a talented RB early.
    The only RB's with solid first round grades are C.J. Spiller and Ryan Matthews. I don't see us going for either guy (Spiller will likely be gone before we pick, and Matthews is not a value pick at #18 considering all of the other options that should be available there).

    Day two possibilities include Jahvid Best, Jonathan Dwyer, Toby Gerhart, Anthony Dixon, Dexter McCluster, Ben Tate, Montario Hardesty, and Joe McKnight (although one or two of those guys may drop into the 4th round).

    On day three, you should still be able to get guys like LaGarrette Blount, Deji Karim, Joique Bell, Charles Scott, James Starks, Andre Dixon, Andre Anderson, Chris Brown, LaMarcus Coker, Javarris James, Keith Toston, Stafon Johnson, and Brandon Minor.

    I think we could certainly take a RB in round 3 like Gerhart, Tate, Dwyer, or Dixon (depending upon who is available, of course), but if we don't, I think getting someone like Bell, Scott, Blount, Karim, or Starks on the third day would be good enough to solidify a RB corps that already includes Mendenhall, Moore, and either Summers or Redman (and either McHugh or Johnson likely functioning as the FB again).

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    Re: Pete Prisco: Steelers' positional analysis and needs

    Quote Originally Posted by RuthlessBurgher
    (and either McHugh or Johnson likely functioning as the FB again).
    This must change.
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    Re: Pete Prisco: Steelers' positional analysis and needs

    Quote Originally Posted by Discipline of Steel
    Quote Originally Posted by RuthlessBurgher
    (and either McHugh or Johnson likely functioning as the FB again).
    This must change.
    Two words: Owen Schmitt. We need to get him.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

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    Re: Pete Prisco: Steelers' positional analysis and needs

    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel
    Pete Prisco's RB analysis, my comments in green -


    RB: Rashard Mendenhall proved to be a big-time runner last season. After a slow start to his season, including being inactive for a game, he showed the Steelers they have a tough inside runner. That is why they let Willie Parker go. Mewelde Moore is the backup and third-down back. Frank Summers, Isaac Redman and Justin Vincent are the backups. They could use a young runner here.


    RB – Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, Stefan Logan, Isaac Redman, Frank Summers, Justin Vincent.


    I believe the Steelers will use a mid-to-low (3-7) round pick on a RB. Although the loss of Willie Parker makes a higher pick a possibility, it seems unlikely as Mendenhall and Moore are the top two RBs and Frank Summers is reportedly looking good so far in pre-season workouts.

    but another RB will definitely be added, as Tomlin wants competition.
    RB is the thinest position on this team. If anyone thinks adding a late round filler player is going to be enough if Mendy go out hurt then expect the offense to grind to a halt or get use to throwing the ball 40+ time every game.

    We have nothing behind Mendy. Time to wake up and realize we need a talented RB early.

    rb is pretty thin now with just mendy and moore. i hope frank summers has improved but who knows. if spiller is still there at #18 there is no way the steelers could pass on him. i would still be happy if they got best, blount or gerhart later in the draft although for next season i wouldnt have much confidence in those guys getting the bulk of carries if mendy or moore get hurt

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    Re: Pete Prisco: Steelers' positional analysis and needs

    I would still like to see what Redman has against better competition. I think it is possible that we already have our short yardage back. No, I'm not saying he is the second coming of Bettis or anything like that. Just that the guy did well in pre-season and against our own defense in drills. I'd like to see him go up against some 1st stringers in the 3rd pre-season game this year.
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