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Stlrs4Life
01-21-2008, 03:32 PM
Tomlin's mantra: Youth must be served
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, January 21, 2008

The Steelers enjoyed tremendous success with a core group of veteran players. But the same experience that made the Steelers a consistent playoff team could finally work against them.
Coach Mike Tomlin said it best at the final news conference of his first season in charge. The Steelers need an infusion of young legs to complement their veteran talent.

"We could use young people, young developing people in a lot of areas,'' Tomlin said. "If I could identify anything at this point, I would say we need young, big people.''

Some of the players on the Steelers' wish-list will be on display this week in Mobile, Ala., when the nation's top college seniors prepare for Saturday's Senior Bowl.

Expect Tomlin and his coaching staff to target those players matching two of the Steelers' primary areas of need: the offensive and defensive lines.
"Because you need big, strong men in the interior on the rise,'' Tomlin said. "We're older in those positions.''

The Steelers haven't drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since 2002. They haven't selected an offensive tackle in the first round since 1996.

Among the returning starters, left tackle Marvel Smith will be 30, right guard Kendall Simmons will be 29 and center Sean Mahan will be 28 at the start of next season.

Left guard Alan Faneca, who's a free agent and isn't expected to return, is 31. Tackle Max Starks, another free agent whose return to the Steelers is also uncertain, is 26.

Defensively, the need to get younger, especially up front, is even more pronounced. Was 2001 really the last year that the team took a defensive lineman in the first round?

The numbers don't lie. Defensive end Aaron Smith will be 32 at the start of next season. Nose tackle Casey Hampton will be 31, defensive end Brett Keisel will be 30 and backup nose tackle Chris Hoke will be 32 when the Steelers open the 2008 season. Fourth-round draft pick Ryan McBean, the youngest and least experienced member of the defensive line, is 24.

That's not old, as in ancient. That's old, as in time to reload.

Individually, the key members of the defensive line have impressive credentials. Analyzed separately, however, they struggled to generate a consistent pass rush and weren't as stout against the run.

All of which means there's no sense delaying the inevitable any longer. Tomlin's Steelers must get younger on the defensive and offensive lines, or prepare to face the consequences.

Last year, the Steelers selected linebackers with their first two picks in an obvious attempt to address a position the team has traditionally overlooked in the early rounds of the draft. Lawrence Timmons was the first linebacker selected in the first round since 1991.

Experience is great, but too much experience is no longer an alternative for a Steelers team whose goal is to become younger in the trenches.

BlitzburghRockCity
01-21-2008, 03:46 PM
It's very true, our inability of addressing the OL and DL for all these years has caught up to us. Look at everything up until the last 5 years let's say. The Steelers regularly took atleast 1 OL on day 1 and usually take atleast 1 DL in the draft as well, to stay fresh and keep that position competitive. Then the last 5 years we haven't taken virtually anyone in either area that has competed and done anything worth while.

Black@Gold Forever32
01-21-2008, 07:15 PM
Well they need to reload both at OL and DL with younger players.....I wouldn't be mad at all if the first three rounds of the draft were all OL and DL picks....

They just have to draft smart and don't reach for players....

BlitzburghRockCity
01-21-2008, 09:15 PM
Reloading on OL and DL is the definite objective IMO on day 1. At all costs that must be done, atleast 1 pick on each side of the ball. Unless there is literally no available prospects at either position in those rounds that is not a reach I don't see how you can do anything but that.

Stlrs4Life
01-21-2008, 10:27 PM
Agree, I do not complain of them picks either. At least 1 of them has to be a Center though.

Black@Gold Forever32
01-22-2008, 12:19 AM
Agree, I do not complain of them picks either. At least 1 of them has to be a Center though.

No centers in this draft are worth a first round grade....Only one projects to a second round grade in this draft...So really the Steelers can wait until the third to draft a center.....

BlitzburghRockCity
01-22-2008, 01:03 AM
The Steelers haven't drafted an offensive lineman in the first round since 2002. They haven't selected an offensive tackle in the first round since 1996.

That's just a pathetic statement right there, it shows how futile the drafting has been for this team. A team that prides itself on running the ball, being physical, letting your QB manage the game and that. Yet year in and year out somehow they justified overlooking the lines as something that didn't take a priority. There should never be a year when you don't take atleast 1 offensive lineman no matter how good you are.

Ambridge
01-22-2008, 08:04 PM
That's just a pathetic statement right there, it shows how futile the drafting has been for this team. A team that prides itself on running the ball, being physical, letting your QB manage the game and that. Yet year in and year out somehow they justified overlooking the lines as something that didn't take a priority. There should never be a year when you don't take atleast 1 offensive lineman no matter how good you are.

There's not even the consolation that Russ Grimm could take some mediocre talent and coach them up to play at a higher level.

Hudson Houk is a very good O-line coach and was released from the Dolphins staff when Parcells came in and hasn't been hired elsewhere yet that I know of and would be tremendous upgrade over Larry Zeirlein.

BlitzburghRockCity
01-22-2008, 08:28 PM
the Dolphins really did have a decent line, they just had no consistent QB play or any healthy RB's to speak of to operate behind it. Unless Tomlin does a complete 180 though we'll have the same people back coaching in 2008. I just still can't believe he didn't pull the trigger and get rid of both Ligashesky & Jones. ST's is something that usually struggles through the first few weeks till guys get their act together but we just stunk the entire year. ST needs an entire revamp in the way of thinking that we do it. Except for the SB year our coverage teams have sucked for quite awhile.

DIESELMAN
01-22-2008, 09:06 PM
There's not even the consolation that Russ Grimm could take some mediocre talent and coach them up to play at a higher level.

Hudson Houk is a very good O-line coach and was released from the Dolphins staff when Parcells came in and hasn't been hired elsewhere yet that I know of and would be tremendous upgrade over Larry Zeirlein.

He's helped SD, Dallas and Miami, he is a pretty good OL coach. I heard he might go back to Dallas, theres a few teams looking at him including Baltimore.

2 Point Mike
01-23-2008, 10:17 AM
This team had young talent last year and barely allowed them to play. Crying about it now is very ironic, to say the least. Timmons and Woodley needed more time on the field to learn, and they didnt' get it, even in the early season blowouts.

Steelerlyn
01-23-2008, 11:11 AM
This team had young talent last year and barely allowed them to play. Crying about it now is very ironic, to say the least. Timmons and Woodley needed more time on the field to learn, and they didnt' get it, even in the early season blowouts.

It makes you wonder how much young talent was sitting on the bench and why