View Full Version : Steelers have no major holes to fill, yet have workman-like needs everywhere

04-20-2008, 12:08 PM

The day the Steelers hired Chuck Noll in 1969, a philosophy change took place in their organization that they have followed the past 39 years.
They build, rebuild and replenish primarily through the draft. Even when free agency took hold in 1993, that belief did not waver. It has modified out of necessity because of free agency and the reduction to seven rounds of the draft. But other than signing a veteran free agent or two each year and the occasional trade, the Steelers stock their roster through the draft and signing rookie free agents when it's over.
The opportunity to do so Saturday and Sunday, however, won't be as strong for them as in the past. They have only six draft choices, one in each of the first six rounds. They traded their seventh-round choice for Allen Rossum, a player they released this year, and they received no extra compensatory picks from the NFL.
Unless they make a trade, they will have two picks on Saturday, starting with the 23rd in the first round, and four more on Sunday.
And while they have no major holes to try to fill in their starting lineup, they have needs everywhere. Kevin Colbert, their director of football operations, sees that six pack as a way to help his team.
http://www.post-gazette.com/images4/NFL_DRAFT_LOGO2008_125.gifTHE DRAFT

What: Annual NFL player draft. Seven rounds ??? two on Saturday and five on Sunday.
When: 3 p.m. Saturday, then resumes at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Where: Radio City Music Hall, New York.
TV: ESPN & NFL Network.
No. 1 pick: Miami.
Steelers: Select 23rd in the first round, then have one pick in every succeeding round except the seventh. They traded their seventh round pick to Atlanta last year for Allen Rossum.
"I think it can help it greatly," Colbert said. "There's no question. If we have six picks at our disposal, there's certainly six picks in this draft that definitely can help our team at all levels. I wish we did have more picks, but we'll make the best use of those six."
Their needs outnumber their draft picks.
The Steelers have an obvious job to fix their offensive line. That line was neither strong nor consistent last season, then it lost one of the best linemen in team history, seven-time Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca. Their top move in the offseason was to sign Justin Hartwig, released by Carolina, to help them at center.
Chris Kemoeatu is the assumed replacement for Faneca. It appears Max Starks, who carries their $7 million transition tag, will return and compete with Willie Colon at right tackle. If Colon does not keep his seat, it's possible he will get a chance to compete with Kemoeatu as well.
The starting defensive line remains strong, but it's getting older and there's little depth at end. If they did not know already, the Steelers discovered just how valuable Aaron Smith is to them when a torn biceps ended his season four games early, a period that included the playoff loss to Jacksonville.
"We need to strengthen ourselves in our lines, of course," coach Mike Tomlin said, listing a priority shortly after last season ended. "I talked about offensive and defensive lines ... you always need big strong men in the interior on the rise. We're older in those positions. We are. That will be our intentions, along with all areas, of course. But, in terms of having the personality that we want to have, there is no secret that we want to run the football and run it big time. We want to smash the run, so it starts inside and up front."
Many of the mock drafts have an offensive or defensive lineman going to the Steelers in the first round, for obvious reasons.
But it does not mean that's what they will do. Colbert called this draft the deepest for offensive tackles he has seen in 25 years. Also, a bunch of wide receivers and defensive backs have come through the Steelers' facility the past several weeks as they take closer looks at some of the college prospects.
Ben Roethlisberger's wish for a tall wide receiver aside, they need another at the position. Cedrick Wilson's release means they have just three experienced wide receivers. Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes are a good tandem; Nate Washington needs to turn his promise into consistency. After that, there's not much there.
Their secondary could use a boost. They worry about free safety because Ryan Clark lost his spleen, and Anthony Smith has yet to show he can play the position adequately. Their corners are solid, if not spectacular, but, if they found another, they might consider ultimately moving Deshea Townsend to free safety.
There's also a glaring need for a banger at running back behind Willie Parker. When the Steelers needed the tough yards last season, oftentimes they weren't able to get them, and leads and games were lost because of it. Someone to take some of the carries off Parker and do it off tackle would be a welcome sight at Heinz Field against the toughest schedule in the NFL.
Because the group of running backs in this draft is so deep, they likely can get a good one in the third or fourth round. It's unlikely they will get a good offensive or defensive lineman there. It's imperative they get their linemen high and then go for a back, a wide receiver and a defensive back later in the draft.
There's also the matter of quarterback. It would seem the Steelers do not need a quarterback. They certainly don't need a starter. The question becomes, how long will Charlie Batch be No. 2? He's 33 and has not had to take a beating in a while, so perhaps he can play another five years. On the other hand, is it time to groom someone to become No. 2 down the road?
If the Steelers had a seventh-round draft pick, that might be a logical move. They've shown an affinity for Penn State's Anthony Morelli, who could be drafted in the sixth round.
And don't forget outside linebacker. Even though the Steelers used their first two draft picks last season on Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley, they still have little depth at the position. They said Timmons was an outside linebacker when they drafted him, but he'll compete on the inside this year. Woodley will become their starter on the left side, but, with the departure of Clark Haggans, team MVP James Harrison is the only outside linebacker with much experience.
Colbert has stated the Steelers could draft a player at any position in the first round except quarterback and tight end. It's easy to see why.
Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com.
First published on April 20, 2008 at 12:00 am

04-22-2008, 09:09 AM

Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert raised the possibility of trading out of the No. 23 spot to acquire more picks in this weekend's NFL Draft.

Unlike previous drafts, Colbert said the Steelers won't trade up in the first round to acquire a player they really like.

"Being that we only have six (draft) picks at this point, trading up in the first round is really not a likely scenario," Colbert said Monday at the team's South Side facility in the media session prior to the April 26-27 draft. "In other years, I would always say, 'Hey, we could go up, we could go down.' But realistically, I don't think we can go up.

"Trading down is definitely an inviting option," Colbert said, "because there's a lot of players in rounds two, three, four that could help this team, and the more picks we can get in any of those areas the better off we're going to be."

Colbert said the Steelers will make their six draft selections from a final list of 160 players that was pared down from an original 1,000 prospects.

Calling it a "very strong" draft, Colbert was reluctant to pinpoint who the Steelers are targeting in the first round.

For starters, the Steelers aren't in the business of revealing their draft secrets to the rest of the NFL. For another, Colbert said the top of this year's draft remains a mystery.

In fact, Colbert said this draft could be as unpredictable as any in recent memory.

Whether he was referring to trades or teams making surprising picks, Colbert left the door open for several different scenarios leading up to the Steelers' selection at No. 23.

Some of the players who could be on the Steelers' first-round wish list include North Carolina defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer, Boston College tackle Gosder Cherilus, Auburn defensive end/linebacker Quentin Groves, Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart and Oklahoma receiver Malcolm Kelly.

"This is one draft, at this stage, I don't think we've got a handle on a position or one player," Colbert said. "Sometimes you can get that feel. But this year I think there's going to be a lot of variables that's going to happen in front of us. We're not going to lock our knees. We'll be very flexible and try to adjust accordingly."

Refusing to discuss specific players, Colbert said the draft is unusually deep at tackle, with versatile linemen who can play right and left tackle, and others who who can play tackle and guard. The draft is also strong at running back and cornerback, Colbert said.

Colbert said the Steelers won't pass on a player in the first round just because there are other good players at that position.

"We're never going to pass a good player feeling that we're going to get another good player somewhere down the line," Colbert said. "If we really like him, we better take him where we like him.

"I think there's a lot of kids that can go in the second or third rounds that could definitely help us. Some of those kids may get picked in the first round."

I'd love to see us trade down a few spots depending on who could potentially fall to us. It's a gamble though so if they do it they better make it work, we can't afford any missed draft picks this year through atleast rounds 1-4.

04-24-2008, 06:09 AM

The Steelers looked like they needed to upgrade their wide-receiving corps.
And that was before quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said a tall wide receiver was on his wish list, before the Steelers released Cedrick Wilson following his arrest for simple assault.

Those offseason developments could prompt the Steelers to take a pass-catcher with their initial pick Saturday in the NFL Draft even though they have used three of their eight first-round selections this decade on wide receivers (Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes) and a tight end (Heath Miller).

Two rangy wide receivers that could be available when the Steelers make the 23rd overall pick are 6-foot-4 Malcolm Kelly of Oklahoma and 6-6 James Hardy of Indiana.

"Both of those kids," ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said, "would make sense (for the Steelers)."
Director of football operations Kevin Colbert said the Steelers don't necessarily covet a tall wide receiver for the simple reason that putting such a premium on size could cause them to miss on their evaluation of that player.

"If a player's a good receiver, and he happens to be tall, great. If a player's a good receiver and he's small, fast and does a lot of things, that's great too," Colbert said. "Really, we're not looking for a tall receiver per se."

There is no disputing that tall wideouts are tantalizing to teams, and Nate Washington, listed at 6-1, is the tallest wide receiver on the Steelers roster with NFL experience.

"I think there is the benefit to the taller wide receiver, especially in the red zone," said ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, who played quarterback for 15 seasons in the NFL. "I think sometimes when you have those jump balls, those fade routes or those back of the end zone (passes), and you can create a match-up with a 6-4 or 6-5 wide receiver against a 5-9, 5-10 corner(back), that's a significant advantage."

When he played for the Eagles, Jaworski was asked before one draft who Philadelphia should take with its first pick. He said the team should look into selecting a "speedy" wide receiver.

"The next day I was up in coach (Dick) Vermeil's office getting my butt chewed out saying 'Do you want to read in the paper (Eagles wide receiver) Harold Carmichael saying we need to bring in another quarterback?' " Jaworski recalled. "I said 'No, coach, you are absolutely right.' Ever since that point, as a player, I never made comments on who I felt the team should draft."

As much as Roethlisberger, who played with the 6-5 Burress his rookie season, would like to throw to a tall receiver, he has put no pressure on the team to draft one.

"We've got a great offense right now," Roethlisberger said. "We've got a lot of pieces of the puzzle in place, we've got just to put them together. Whatever they decide to do in the draft, we'll just see how it fits in."

If and when the Steelers draft a wide receiver, size will be only part of the consideration, Colbert said.

"We're looking for a good receiver," he said. "We never lock ourselves into measurables for anything."

I've been thinking about this more and more lately, the possibility of getting Ben another weapon on offense is very real. There's so many options for us at 23 but if the team thinks they can get a T in the 2nd round comfortably I wouldn't put it past them to go WR or RB here.

K Train
04-24-2008, 03:23 PM
sweed would not surprise me at all, and i think our offense would be nasty with him

04-24-2008, 03:52 PM
Could you imagine Ward, Holmes, Sweed, and Washington??? Along with Heath and Matt Spaeth? We'd have some serious air assualt options all over the place :yesnod:

04-24-2008, 04:01 PM
I would be so happy if we took Sweed or Kelly....or a top rated OLineman if he falls.

K Train
04-24-2008, 04:05 PM
sweed is a good blocker too, kelly really ****ed himself by running bad times and constantly making retarded *** excuses....second round id take him but not the first

04-24-2008, 04:08 PM
I'd still take him in the first. I disregard 40 times and he did apologize for making an *** of himself. He runs excellent routes, has great hands, is smart, and he has good body control. Think a very poor man's Larry Fitz.

K Train
04-24-2008, 04:11 PM
well i guess we'll see, i have them ranked sweed, thomas, kelly, Hardy, manningham, doucet, hawkins...of guys id be interested in

04-24-2008, 05:43 PM
Guys I would like in the first day:

1. Limas Sweed

2. Malclom Kelly

3. DeSean Jackson

4. Earl Bennett

5. Devin Thomas

6. James Hardy

7. Early Doucet

The Top-5 though, I would like any of them. I love Bennett and I think if they could trade back with say, Atlanta, then they should most definitely draft him. He is twice the prospect Buster Davis was last year and he went #30.

K Train
04-24-2008, 08:39 PM
i think jackson will be a failure

04-24-2008, 08:46 PM
He will be fine. He is a smaller (but faster, quicker, etc...and a better returner) and a little less polished version of Santonio Holmes. Manningham will be a monumental failure though. That I am sure of.

K Train
04-24-2008, 09:06 PM
i think hes to small and will get pushed around, hes also a little bitch, he doesnt work the middle and has entirely to many typical diva wr qualities to him.

manningham i think can be alright, hes got a bad attitude though and if he flops hes gonna flop in a big way

holmes works the whole field and had 4.4 speed and makes himself a phyical presence on the field which given his size is amazing

04-24-2008, 09:12 PM
True. I think he-Jackson- will have a productive career though. Even if it is like a Desmond Howard.

04-24-2008, 09:12 PM
I love all this crap about the Steelers "not having any major holes to fill" that the Steelers spout over and over again and the papers just lap it right up.

We have a huge hole on the O-line. It sucked last year, and we just lost our best lineman. That is a huge hole. Everything else is secondary. It doesn't matter who your WRs or RBs are, or who you have on defense, if your O-line is a sieve. And that's exactly what ours is right now.

If we don't think there will be any elite linemen available when we pick, then I don't give a damn if we only have 6 picks, TRADE UP and take whoever is necessary to solidify the offensive line. I don't want another 98-00 where our O-line sucks and it kills our whole team.

K Train
04-24-2008, 09:17 PM
honestly if we only had 2 picks in this draft, like a 1st and 2nd rounder that would be ok with me if we could land a monster lineman...clady, williams or albert