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Thread: Steelers Team Needs: Inside Linebacker

  1. #1

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    Steelers Team Needs: Inside Linebacker

    Steelers Team Needs: Inside Linebacker

    February 11th, 2011

    Now that the season is over it is time to start preparing for next year. The team had filled some major holes in last years draft by adding depth at Outside Linebacker and bringing in two new young Wide Receivers. This year there will be some more holes to fill. The Steelers will have the 31st pick and have 7 picks in this draft at this time. They may receive compensation picks for lost free agents. With those picks and with Free Agency here are the top 6 needs that should be filled:

    Inside Linebacker
    Defensive End
    Offensive Tackle
    Free Safety

    Now on to Inside Linebacker:

    Inside Linebacker was a strength this year for the Steelers. Lawrence Timmons was outstanding and James Farrior was the leader and tackler he always is. The Steelers also brought back Larry Foote for depth and drafted Stevenson Sylvester to see if he could play middle linebacker.

    Sylvester looks like he has the instincts to play middle linebacker. He is always around the ball when he is on the field. His motor is always running and he is a huge asset on special teams. He also is very good on the blitz and can make some of Coach Tomlinís splash plays. Sylvester is also still very young at 22 and has loads of potential. The key is if he can reach that potential.

    The reason why ILB is a position of need is that James Farrior is 36 years old. He is no spring chicken. Farrior keeps himself in great shape and makes plays in the run game and does well on the blitz. He really shows his age in pass coverage. Teams that had great games against us were New England and Green Bay. They both use the spread offense and make the linebackers cover. Farrior becomes the weak link in these situations. He cannot keep up with the tight ends and has a hard time with quick backs out of the backfield. He also is expected to take away the seam which he is not able to do anymore.

    That all being said I am hoping that Farrior can make it one more season to get either Sylvester ready to play or bring in someone in next years draft. This is not a strong Inside Linebacker class nor is it a strong Free Agency Pool for the position. There are only 2 guys that are young enough to spend money on in free agency and one is getting the franchise tag and the other is too injury prone though all of Pittsburgh will be clamoring for him to return home.

    Free Agents

    David Harris- Harris is being tagged by the Jets. This is a smart move by them. This would have been another great inside linebacker steal just like we had with Farrior. Harris is young and has already spent time with LaMarr Woodley as they were teammates at Michigan. Too bad he will not be available for the Steelers to make a good run at.

    Paul Pozluszny- Paul is a hometown kid who all the locals will be screaming for when he hits free agency. Poz is a great player who would fit well in the Steelers scheme but he canít stay healthy to save himself. If healthy he could be one of the best linebackers in the NFL. He is great at shedding blocks and is always around the play, he just is never on the field. If we could guarantee his health I would welcome him with open arms, but I canít see the Steelers taking a chance on him otherwise.

    As I said this is not a good Free Agent class, but the draft is not much better. There are more prospects but most are not as far along as Sylvester is already. Here are five to keep an eye on. These are not just the first tier guys but guys who could contribute on Special Teams as well.

    Draft Prospects

    Martez Wilson- Wilson is being compared to Lawrence Timmons in most of his draft hype. The only thing is that he is too comparable to Timmons in a sense that he will need 2 or 3 years before he is ready to be a full time starter due to how raw he is. Timmons is a better pass defender right now but Wilson does have one thing that Timmons canít catch up to him with and that is size. Wilson is 6í4, 250 lbs and he looks like a tight end not a bulky inside linebacker. If Wilson is able to progress like Timmons that could be the scariest inside linebacker duo ever. That much speed with that much power. I would not be against taking Wilson since Farrior wants to play at least one more year anyway.

    Greg Jones- Jones has taken a huge drop this season in his production and in his draft stock. Jones was thought to be the best middle linebacker heading into this season. He had one knock on him and that was that he was small. He only weighed around 22o lbs last season. When he arrived this season he weighed in at 240. This did not help Jones at all. He played slower and looked more sluggish. He still was not able to shed blocks as well as people would hope for and is now being looked at as a Sam Linebacker in a 4-3 as well. Jones may be able to prosper under Coach Butler since he has the ability but he is looking like he is going to have to fight his way to become that contributor that we are going to need.

    Quan Sturdivant- Sturdivant has the same problem as Jones in the weight category. He only comes in at 232 but he is a thumper and he does not look like he weighs 232. Sturdivant had a rough season as all his friends and protection were suspended so he took a lot more punishment then he needed to this season. He still have a good year but not the one everyone was looking for, but if you lost 6 starters around you, you might have a hard time as well. He is a big risk, big reward type player who could be a steal at the end of the second round.

    Casey Matthews- This kid is undersized and and not the speediest of players but he does have one thing that makes him valuable and that is that he has an extremely high football I.Q. He is always around the ball and is making plays. At his size he should not be able to make some of the plays he makes but he is smart enough to get leverage and be where he needs to be. He is also a Matthews so you canít really vote against him. He will be a mid round prospect who can contribute at least on special teams right away.
    Alex Wujciak- Those of you who have been reading this long enough know I canít leave this kid out. I love the way he plays. He played on a bad team and they struggled but he still makes his 10 tackles a game and there is nothing fantastic about what he does but he is a tackling machine. He is ferocious and plays with an edge. He is always where the ball is. He is great at shedding blockers and he is becoming extinct in the NFL. People are worried about his speed. He has had a few knee surgeries and it may cost him in the end. Like I said he does not do anything flashy and everyone will pass on him and in 2 years he will be a solid contributor on a team and everyone will go wow I canít believe we passed on him. He will be around in the late rounds and if he is whoever gets him will get a huge steal.

    If the Steelers can make it one more year with Farrior and then look for a player next season there will be much more to choose from. Next years draft class is full of great Inside Linebackers. It should be the deepest position in the draft. It needs to be addressed one way or another soon though.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Steelers Team Needs: Inside Linebacker

    With Foote as our ILB behind Farrior, it is one of my least worries this offseason, especially with our glaring needs on OL and DB. I'd even go as far as to say we are set at ILB. Yes, LB is always needed here, but our biggest worries lie elsewhere.
    2019 Mock

    1. ILB
    2. CB
    3. ILB
    4. S
    5. CB
    6. ILB
    7. S

  3. #3
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    Re: Steelers Team Needs: Inside Linebacker

    Ill whole-heartedly agree with you Craz. The author argued against himself saying Sly was already farther along than any draftee could be and he has loads of potential. Do I really need to add anything? OK, i still like Fox even though his bad play in the Super Bowl. Weve all made big mistakes in our lives, its not like he was making them all year long. Not as many splash plays this year but thats because we had 5 capable players at the position and he saw the field less. The only position we need less than ILB is QB.
    Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentations of their women.

  4. #4

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    Re: Steelers Team Needs: Inside Linebacker

    Even if Farrior retired this year, ILB isn't a pressing need. Foote would be fine playing next to Timmons, with Sylvester waiting in reserve. If Fox is retained, he's be further depth at the position; otherwise, teams can always find a reserve ILB cheap in free agency.

  5. #5

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    Re: Steelers Team Needs: Inside Linebacker

    We need to get another ILB late in the draft. Look at Bruce Miller, 6'2" 255lbs from UCF. The kid is a solid tackler, great quickness and has a non stop motor. Play DE/OLB at UCF and was Conference USA leader in sacks last couple of seasons. IMO he better fits inside

  6. #6

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    Re: Steelers Team Needs: Inside Linebacker



    I think we're fine there, at least not to the point that we need to use an early draft pick imo.

    I think Sly is going to be a good one. I like what (little) I've seen from him.

  7. #7

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    Re: Steelers Team Needs: Inside Linebacker

    Our only "problem" at ILB is when Farrior is in pass coverage on 3rd down. He should not be out there.

    "But Crash, he calls the defense".

    Okay? And? Teach someone else to do it on 3rd down.

    LeBeau is too loyal to Farrior, almost to a fault.

  8. #8
    Pro Bowler

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    Re: Steelers Team Needs: Inside Linebacker

    I would love to add this guy in the 3rd

    [url=""] ... re=related[/url]

    FA Signings- Donte Moncrief, Mark Barron and Steve Nelson

    Trade 1/20-3/66-3/84 to BUF for 1/9
    Trade 5/142-6/194-6/207 to MIA for 4/116

    2019 Draft

    1/9-Devin White-ILB-LSU
    2/52-Chase Winovich-OLB-Mich
    4/116-David Sills-WR-WVU
    4/123-Bryce Love-RB-Stanford
    6/176-Corbin Kafusi-DE-BYU
    7/221-Curtis Bolton-LB-Oklahoma

  9. #9

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    Re: Steelers Team Needs: Inside Linebacker

    Keyron Fox is solid also.

  10. #10

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    Re: Steelers Team Needs: Inside Linebacker

    Quote Originally Posted by JPbucco
    Keyron Fox is solid also.
    I think Fox has earned a ticket out of town with the stupid penalties he has drawn all season long.


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