4.61 for Benjamin. Slower than I expected
21 reps for Clowney, granted he has long arms (34 inches), but damn I repped 19 the other day (I do this every year at combine time and I'm 35..
I went for Watkins. I wanted DeAndre Hopkins last year and Watkins looks better.
1. C.J. Mosley LB Alabama
2. Jordan Matthews WR Vanderbilt
3. (comp) Philip Gaines CB Rice
4. Arthur Lynch TE Georgia
5. Ross Cockrell CB Duke
5. (comp) Derrick Hopkins DT Virginia Tech
6. Josh Mauro DE Stanford
6. (comp) Shaquil Barrett OLB Colorado State
7. Quincy Enunwa WR Nebraska
In that order
Should the Steelers address offense or defense in first round?
Jeff Snedden —
The NFL has morphed into a league dictated by offense. While no one-dimensional team is ever going to win a Super Bowl again, the days of even getting there with a mediocre offense are over. In the new NFL, teams need dynamic playmakers in key offensive skill positions. Those types of players are rarely found beyond the first round of any draft. The Seattle Seahawks just won Super Bowl XLVIII with a dominating defense containing just three first-round picks. In fact, a quick glance at their roster will show that the majority of their starting defense was found in the fifth round or later. Although originally drafted by Buffalo in the first round, the one indispensable player on the 2013 Seahawks was undoubtedly RB Marshawn Lynch. Without their 1,257 yard/12 TD rusher, the Seahawks do not get past New Orleans or San Francisco in the playoffs, and may not even be in position for the all-important home field advantage that propelled them to the Super Bowl. The 2009 Saints, 2010 Packers and 2013 AFC Champion Broncos were all top-rated offensive teams with middle-of-the-road defenses that did just enough to keep those offenses on the field and controlling the pace of the game.
With the 15th overall pick in the 2014 Draft, the Steelers are in a prime position. They hold a high pick in a draft that may be the deepest in history. The Steelers have needs on defense that include cornerback, safety, outside linebacker and nose tackle. With very few traditional 3-4 nose tackles available – there are no Casey Hamptons here, folks – the top OLB (Khalil Mack) long gone and negligible difference between the top corners (Darqueze Dennard just ran his way into the top ten in Indianapolis), the Steelers are going to have plenty of time to fill those holes in the later rounds. Furthermore, the Steelers are not a franchise that thrusts defensive rookies into starting slots. The Dick LeBeau defense almost dictates at least two seasons of apprenticeship for even the most gifted players.
The Steelers need to utilize this high-yield pick on a skill position that can produce immediate results for a team coming off consecutive 8-8 seasons. Another factor is the rapidly closing window of franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger, who has been begging the Steelers for more offensive weapons for years. The addition of RB Le’Veon Bell last year was a nice start, and the young offensive line began to come together quite nicely in the second half of 2013. That leaves the wide receiver and tight end positions as areas where the team could find a dynamic impact player in this draft. Luckily for the Steelers, this draft contains a group of first round-caliber wideouts that all fit the mold of what both Big Ben and the team have been seeking since the days when Hines Ward and a young Plaxico Burress were causing nightmares for opposing defenses. With Antonio Brown the only sure-fire threat at WR, and TE Heath Miller beginning to show signs of wear, the team must act quickly.
The top WR in the draft is Clemson WR Sammy Watkins, who should be gone in the top ten picks. Watkins is a cross between Ravens WR Torrey Smith and Seattle WR Percy Harvin, should he fall. Beyond Watkins, Texas A&M WR Mike Evans (6-5, 231) and Florida St. WR Kelvin Benjamin (6-5, 240) both have the size and hands to immediately change the look of the Steelers offense (with Evans, think AJ Green/Brandon Marshall-level impact). USC WR Marquise Lee lacks the sheer size of the others, but is the most polished receiver of the group. The Steelers could join the two-tight end rage that has hit the league and select North Carolina TE Eric Ebron (6-4, 250), an athletic freak who would create mismatches in every game. Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro (6-5, 265) is slowly climbing draft boards as well, and his rangy body and ability to run after the catch suit the Steelers short-yardage passing game. Both Amaro and Ebron should be available at No. 15 and could combine with Heath Miller to form a dynamic tandem. Miller will be 32-years old this season as well, so the time is now to find his successor. With these options available, the Steelers need to utilize this opportunity to select a player who can slide into a starting spot this fall and help take a very good offense to elite status.
Gar Bercury —
The cliche “defense wins championships” is a favorite among sports fans. If there was a sports cliche hall of fame, it would be a first ballot inductee. However, in today’s NFL, that oft-spoken adage rings true. While we hear how important offense is, the reality is it’s not nearly as important as a game changing defense. How many Super Bowls has Tom Brady’s elite passing attack won lately? How about Drew Brees? What about everyone’s poster boy for offensive wizardry, Peyton Manning?
Sure, offense matters. However, if you ever needed a better example of how important defense is, look no further than the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII against Manning and the Denver Broncos. Though Manning passed for nearly 5,500 yards and 55 TD’s, it was Russell Wilson, a diminutive “game manager,” who hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
Wilson, a second-year QB who barely passed for over 3,000 yards in the regular season and just over 200 in the Super Bowl, won the ultimate prize while Manning, once again put up monster numbers while coming up short in the playoffs, again. Why? Easy, Manning’s video game offense could not score points against a dominating defense.
For the Seahawks, it was all about defense. It was their ability to stifle teams on this side of the ball that ultimately led them to a championship. As the 2014 NFL draft approaches, hopefully the Pittsburgh Steelers were paying attention.
With an aging defense and a number of key players ready to hit the Free Agent market, they desperately need to improve their defense. For starters, veterans under contract like Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Lamarr Woodley are not getting any younger, or cheaper. Brett Keisel and Ryan Clark have been key contributors, but look to be done.
When you add the potential loss of free agents like Ziggy Hood, Al Woods, Larry Foote and Jason Worilds, there’s reason for concern as the Steelers prepare for the 2014 campaign.
Even if some of these players are back in 2014, what can be expected from a group that went from being one of best defenses in the NFL to one that was middling, at best? Injury concerns have dogged players like Polamalu and Woodley. Meanwhile, the play of Hood, Taylor and William Gay did not exactly leave fans confident this group is prepared to bounce back from a rough 2013 season.
Bottom line is this defense needs improved, and it starts with the draft. Where do the Steelers go for help in the first round? The Steelers could use reinforcements across the board on the defensive line, linebacker and at defensive back. This draft has some interesting options, and with the Steelers picking 15th overall, there should be a number of quality defensive players available who could step in and help immediately.
I, for one, believe the Steelers need to focus on upgrading their secondary first and foremost. Ryan Clark almost certainly done in Pittsburgh and Polamalu nearing the end of a Hall of Fame career, finding a free safety to replace Clark might be the choice.
Two options that could be in the mix with the 15th pick include Alabama’s Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor. Clinton-Dix is generally considered the top safety in the draft, and his coverage skills make him an intriguing complimentary option due to the skill set of Polamalu along his likely replacement, Shamarko Thomas.
Pryor’s physical style and aggressive nature make him a natural fit for the Steelers. After an outstanding showing at the NFL combine, Pryor has crept up the draft boards and some believe that the Steelers are going to take him. Though he does not have the natural cover skills of Clinton-Dix, he’s still solid enough to cover at the professional level.
Cornerback is another area the Steelers could use help and there are at least three corners with a 1st round grade who could make an immediate impact in Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard, Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, and TCU’s Jason Verrett.
Dennard is a physical corner who proved that he has the speed to play in the NFL by running in the 4.4 range at the combine. I love Dennard, and if he slips to the 15th pick, he has to seriously be considered. Gilbert is another player with excellent speed and coverage skills. Much like Dennard, there are a number of teams picking near the Steelers who might have interest, but he too could make an immediate impact. Verrett looks like a reach with the 15th pick, and might be more of a nickel corner who could slip into the 2nd round.
Some believe that players such as defensive tackle Louis Nix from Notre Dame or Alabama linebacker, C.J. Mosley would be welcome additions, and I would not argue. Either way, the Steelers need to improve on defense and it should start with picking defense early, and often.
If I were the Steelers, and knowing who we have on the team, my pick is Clowney. If I were Houston, my pick would be Bortles or Manziel.
6- Time Super Bowl Champions......
IX X XIII XIV XL XLIII
2012 MNF Executive Champion
I stopped reading after the second sentence and that a team with a mediocre offense couldn't get to the Super Bowl. The Seattle offense is the definition of efficient and mediocre at best.
The referee said that you hit Brian Sipe too hard. Did you hit him too hard?
I hit him as hard as I could - Jack Lambert