View Full Version : Tomlin intent on improving Defensive line

04-21-2008, 12:37 AM

By John Harris
Monday, April 21, 2008

Great pass rusher or great defensive back?

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin left no doubt what he wants.

"Great pass rusher -- because the ball never comes out," Tomlin told reporters at the recent NFL owners meetings in Florida.

The Steelers recorded 36 sacks in 2007. Tomlin wants and expects more sacks in 2008.
However, it's not as if the Steelers' defense struggled. The numbers prove that.

The team finished with the NFL's top-ranked defense last season -- No. 2 against the pass and No. 2 against the run.

Unfortunately, in the biggest games against the best teams, the Steelers couldn't overcome their lack of a consistent pass rush from their traditional 3-4 alignment.

Remember that as the Steelers prepare for the draft this weekend.

Potential Steelers first-round draft picks include North Carolina defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer, Clemson defensive end Phillip Merling and Miami defensive end Calais Campbell.

"If you want to apply pressure to the quarterback, I think it starts first and foremost with your ability to apply pressure with your rushmen, your people that are paid to do it," Tomlin said.

The Steelers plan to stick with the 3-4. So, they need their linebackers to become more active pass rushers, their interior line to generate more of a push upfield or, ideally, a better combination of the two.

Based on last year's sack total, the Steelers' top pass rushers were all linebackers.

Pro Bowl outside linebacker James Harrison led the team with 8 1/2 sacks, inside linebacker James Farrior had six, outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley had four in limited action and inside linebacker Larry Foote had three.

Up front, defensive ends Aaron Smith (2 1/2) and Brett Keisel (2) and nose tackle Casey Hampton (1) accounted for 5 1/2 sacks.

That may not be enough for Tomlin, who's a fan of the way the Super Bowl champion New York Giants generated a pass rush without blitzing.

New York led the NFL with 53 sacks -- six more than New England, which lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

Quick, name the 2007 Giants' starting secondary.

Give up?

Just know that the Steelers have a better secondary than the Giants, while the Giants have a better pass rush than the Steelers.

"I have a passion for those rushers, man. Those guys are unique animals," Tomlin said. "When you have them, you have a chance to play great defense, and when you have a chance to play great defense, you have a chance to win."

I honestly can't see us taking a LB on day 1 this year but man if Tomlin is that hell bent on improving the pass rush; and I'm glad he is, then DE is a very real possibility in the 1st or 2nd round. There's some decent prospects to be had in the 3rd or 4th round that have some potential but if Coach wants to hit a home run and give himself the best chance to improve that pass rush on a consistent basis then drafting one high is on the radar...

Black@Gold Forever32
04-21-2008, 01:05 AM
Of those three DL in this article I would take Merling over the other two...Still think the Steelers would be better off taking Dre Moore in the second or Kendall Langford in the third if they want a DL....I think Balmer might even fall out of the first round all together.....Call me crazy but its a feeling I have....

04-21-2008, 01:17 AM
The team seems really on high on both Langford and Moore, a lot of the local Pittsburgh media, SCI, a few other online sites have them targeting one of those 2 as well in the 3rd or 4th.

04-21-2008, 11:04 AM
Just from listening to him from last year, I think he will push for the first pick to be a pass rusher. He has not backed down from anything he has said yet the I can think off. I don't see him starting now.

Iron City South
04-21-2008, 11:13 AM
Woodley will be an absolute BEAST and Timmons will show his critics why he was selected in the 1st round.

'Nuff said . . .

K Train
04-21-2008, 11:22 AM
groves or balmer would not surprise me at all, dline is a much bigger need than oline imo

04-21-2008, 01:18 PM
groves or balmer would not surprise me at all, dline is a much bigger need than oline imo

Depending on how you look at it, it sure could be yes. DL as far as the 3 starters is set but realistically there is zero depth of any significant talent so that makes it a priority. On the OL we have some good players and with the addition of Hartwig and now Starks signing his deal all of the sudden this group might not be so bad. Im concerned mainly with Guard right now; I like Kemoeatu but he just doesn't seem to be able to get it done when he's on the field plus he doesn't have quick feet to be able to pull when we need him to as well. Going either way on day 1 is going to help this team regardless.