Ranking the Steelers’ draft needs
Ranking the Steelers’ draft needs
April 06, 2012 By: Admin
In my opinion the Steelers' top needs are as follows:
#1 – Guard
The Steelers started two undrafted free agents at guard last year. Don’t get me wrong, I like Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky. But the reality is that each of them could be upgraded fairly easily. Chris Kemoeatu was released. Trai Essex is an unrestricted free agent. And even Ramon Foster is a restricted free agent. So the Steelers basically have a bare cupboard at guard. I’ve often suggested that Willie Colon could play guard, but the Steelers have never shown any interest in moving him.
Even if the Steelers sign Ramon Foster and Trai Essex to new contracts, neither of them is a threat to ever make the Pro Bowl. If you want to know why the Steelers couldn’t run the ball last year, look no further than their guards. Guard is probably the weakest position on the entire team.
#2 – Nose tackle
Nose tackle is the most important position in a 3-4 defense. And Casey Hampton is aging in dog years. Hampton was once among the best nose tackles in the NFL. But he hasn’t been dominant for the past 3 years. Moreover, Hampton suffered an ACL injury at the end of the 2011 season. That’s a difficult injury for any player to recover from. But it’s particularly difficult for a 340 pound player who will be 35 years old next season.
Steve McLendon performed admirably when he was called upon last year. But the reality is that he’s too small to be a full-time starter at nose tackle.
#3 – Offensive tackle
The Steelers could be in great shape at offensive tackle, or they could be in terrible shape. Marcus Gilbert is scheduled to move to left tackle, but he’s unproven at the position. Willie Colon is scheduled to return, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for the past two seasons. So both starting positions are question marks. Jonathan Scott is a backup at best. And the Steelers have the potential to bring back Max Starks if he recovers from his injury. So if everything goes well, the Steelers will be sound at the position. But if Gilbert is unsuccessful at left tackle, Colon gets hurt again, and Max Starks doesn’t recover from injury (or the Steelers just don’t bring him back), then the Steelers are screwed.
#4 – Safety
Nobody ever lists safety as a need for the Steelers. But as I explained in my position-by-position review, it’s one of the team’s greatest needs. Both Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark are over 30 years old. Moreover, Troy has only remained healthy for an entire season twice in last 6 years. Do you think that he’s likely to get injured more or less as he gets older?
Ryan Mundy is the team’s only viable backup. Will Allen is a special teams player, and Damon Cromartie-Smith is a practice squad player. The Steelers need to start preparing for the future, and there’s no better time than the present to do that.
#5 – Inside linebacker
James Farrior is no longer with the team. Stevenson Sylvester is listed as his replacement on the Steelers’ depth chart. But the reality is that Sylvester has mainly been a special teams player during his 2 seasons with the Steelers. Nobody knows how he’ll do as a starter. Larry Foote is a dependable backup, but at this point in his career, I really don’t want to see him starting.
#6 – Kicker
That’s right, kicker. Shaun Suisham had the lowest field goal percentage of any starter in the NFL last year. He’s automatic on PAT’s and on FG’s inside of 30 yards or less. But when they get longer than that, he’s questionable. Since the kicker is usually the highest scorer on an NFL team, is this really a position where we can afford to have the worst in the NFL?
#7 – Punter
No, I haven’t been smoking crack. But I genuinely think that both kicker and punter are more important needs than cornerback. Dan Sepulveda is done. He gets hurt too often, and the Steelers aren’t going to give him another chance.
Jeremy Kapinos was picked up off the junk pile, and he served admirably. But he’s in the bottom third of NFL punters. With all of those 7th round picks the Steelers have, they should be able to get someone who can punt better than Kapinos.
#8 – Cornerback
That’s right, I think cornerback is a less pressing need than kicker and punter. I still don’t understand why NFL Network thinks it’s one of our top needs. I have a lot of confidence in Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown. Others may not. But that’s really the crux of the argument. Do you believe in Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen, and Curtis Brown, or don’t you?
#9 – Defensive end
Sure the Steelers have taken 2 defensive ends in the first round over the past 3 drafts. But the reality is that Brett Keisel isn’t getting any younger, and the team doesn’t have a lot of depth at the position.
#10 – Outside linebacker
The Steelers have two of the best in the game in James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. And Jason Worilds is a capable (but not dominant) backup. Chris Carter is unproven, but Lawrence Timmons can move to the outside in an emergency. So it’s not a vital need, but you can never have too many linebackers in a 3-4 defense.
RUNNING BACK- The Steelers have a sidelined 1st round pick, 2 UDFA's, 1 6th round pick & a 7th Round pick to choose from. Mendy is no guarentee to play at the level required as he comes back from injury. Redman has 2 starts to his name. That's our second most experienced RB right there.
Schiavone's Race Career:
You make a good point about Safety. The reason I'm not here calling for a Safety is just the fact that I don't see one worth really getting excited for... as a studious draftnik, I've seen many many guys who are drafted in/around the area we draft (e.g. Reggie Nelson, Mike Doss, Brandon Merriweather) who seem like they measure up, but end up not really moving the needle.
Is there anyone who obviously opens eyes with his on-field impact?
Anyone who saw Polamalu... or Bob Sanders, could've told you, "this guy will be an impact player in the pros." That's the kind of guy I'm looking for, if I'm going to spend a pick at Safety. Not a guy who seems to fit the ball, like the aforementioned... yet fail to make that type of pro impact.
I think of LB Mychal Kendricks as that type of guy. He's the type of guy who you know, a few years from now, will be running around all over the field, making big plays. That's the type of guy I'd be willing to take at Safety, and AFAIK--I don't see one.
Are you saying we draft Mychal Kendricks and play him at safety? Carnell Lake a linebacker in college too. And Kendricks did run fast at the combine. I was thinking we might draft him to play ILB. I'd still like to see what M Ivy and Sly can do there.
Not at all. I'm saying I see him as a Troy Polamalu/Bob Sanders type in terms of play on the field. I think he is an Top 10 player who is pushed down the board because a) he plays a position that's not necessarily that valued, and b) his size (i.e. lack of height). I think he is an elite player among this draft, and one of the few who we will be in position to take. I'd like it if we picked him 1st (unless we can get DeCastro), and let him fly around with Polamalu and Timmons and the rest.
Originally Posted by winwithd
I'd love to see him picked by us at 24. In Rounds 2-3, pick up one of either Zeitler or Josh Chapman from Alabama. (If we could get both, WOW!). Derek Wolfe too, though I guess he's running up the draft boards like crazy.
Last edited by Shoe; 04-10-2012 at 02:39 PM.
Hall of Famer
I like most of the rankings except for a couple. I would move nose tackle down to #5 and move #5 through #3 up. We still have Casey and McLendon really impressed me when he played last year. I'm not sure why people think he wouldn't be good long term. Even if he isn't good enough for the future he is good enough as a stop gap. Plus the fact that some have suggested moving Ziggy to NT and give that a try. These are 3 reasons I don't think NT should be ranked that high.
The next is punter. I think Kapinos has done a pretty good job for us both of the times he has taken over for Sep. He is not a monster kicker but he can do the job. Just remember the year we had to use Berger and Ernster if you want to flash back on bad kicking. I would move punter down on the list. We can bring some guys into camp and see if we uncover a jewel.
Two thumbs up for realizing we need a kicker. Sushi just won't cut it for another year. With our inconsistent offense we need to make sure we at least come away with 3 points instead of a goose egg.
I would swap your #2 and #3 and go with Guard and OT as the top two priorities with a split decision between NT and S for #3.
- Charles Harris-OLB, Missouri
- Rasul Douglas-CB, West Virginia
- Chris Godwin-WR, Penn State
- John Johnson-S, Boston College
- James Conner-RB, Pitt
- Nazair Jones-DT, North Carolina
- Garrett Sickels, DE/OLB, Penn State
I think the reality is that a pick in any of those first five positions would be helpful.
i'd put OT and possibly safety before NT
It's a toss up between NT and S as #2