Steelers 2011 Draft Needs – An Early Look

There is still labor strife uncertainty and a possible lockout on the horizon, but we are going to go ahead as if there will indeed be a draft and start talking about the Steelers 2011 draft needs. If you want to take a look at the roster and what players contracts are up and who the Steelers free agents are, just click the link.

Guard – Both Trai Essex and Doug Legursky are free agents and I could see Legursky being brought back as a swing inside guy, but that is not a lock. Chris Kemoeatu was very inconsistent this year, but is under contract for a while and without a doubt will be the left guard going into camp. Ramon Foster ended the season as the starting right guard, but the Steelers could use an upgrade at the position and some depth. Instantly the name Mike Pouncey is being tossed around Steeler Nation, but Pouncey will be in high demand surely somewhere in the first round as it looks right now. Mike would also be a solution to backing up brother Maurkice at center, but that scenario is a long way off. Regardless I expect the Steelers to draft a couple of guards come April.

Cornerback – Keenan Lewis is not the future from what I have seen. Ike Taylor will likely be re-signed to handle the right side again and he had a good 2010 season. The contract of William Gay is up and he could get some attention in free agency. Crezdon Butler is being brought along slowly and should be able to contribute in 2011, perhaps in a nickel role. Bryant McFadden was extended after the Steelers traded for him, but the Steelers need an upgrade at the left corner eventually. Anthony Madison is merely a dime back and special teams player. He likely will not be brought back. The Steelers will certainly draft at least one corner early it would seem, maybe two. They must be physical types that can tackle as well, a must in the LeBeau defense.

Tackle – The CBA will give a better picture of what will happen with Willie Colon, who will attempt to come back from his Achilles injury. Flozell Adams is also under contract, but will count 5 million against the cap, should they choose to keep him. Max Starks looks to return from his neck injury, but the miles are taking their toll on him. 2010 draft pick Chris Scott is still an unknown quantity. One would think he would get a look at right tackle in his second year. Tony Hills certainly will not be back and although Jonathan Scott ended the season on a high note, he too is a free agent and not worth bringing back. A quality left tackle, if one drops, might be hard to pass up in round one. Regardless, you can bet there will be another young tackle in camp via the draft to go along with a guard.

Safety – Now is the time to start grooming a few safeties. Troy Polamalu heads into his final contract year in 2011 and one would think the Steelers would work to extend him. Regardless, an upgrade over Ryan Mundy would be advisable based on the injury history of Polamalu. Will Allen is the only other reserve safety on the team besides Mundy and he is best known for his special teams play. Ryan Clark is another year older, but under contract until 2013, the Steelers sorely need depth at the position.

Defensive End – Nick Eason was the backup to Brett Keisel this year and will likely not be re-signed. Aaron Smith missed most of the season with a torn triceps and will look to rebound in 2011. Ziggy Hood came on strong in his second season so the Steelers likely will need to draft a right side defensive end to start grooming for the future. Chris Hoke played some end to give a breather or two, but he too is a free agent plus better suited as a nose tackle. Behind Keisel, Smith and Hood, there is no depth.

Linebacker – Hard to see Keyaron Fox being brought back next year and both Larry Foote and James Farrior will be another year older. Lawrence Timmons will also enter the final year of his contract in 2011 and Stevenson Sylvester has only seen mop up duty inside and thus far only really contributed on special teams. LaMarr Woodley likely will be tagged in 2011 and Jason Worilds is still being groomed in the defense. The Steelers can\’t resist good linebacker talent that falls, so I expect another inside or outside guy to be drafted.

Tight End – Matt Spaeth is a free agent and the Steelers might choose to look to the draft for someone to assume his role. Good blocking tight ends that can catch, run and block are hard to find, but they need a guy that handle the snaps that Spaeth gave a game. David Johnson is more of a fullback type, so look for another Big Ten type tight end to be drafted.

Nose Tackle – Although Casey Hampton is locked up for a few more seasons, Chris Hoke is a free agent and the Steelers will likely turn to the draft for a future young nose tackle to groom. Steve McLendon is not the long term solution and likely might not even make it through the final cuts out of camp.

Punter – Daniel Sepulveda is a free agent and has had a history now of knee injuries. It would not be surprising for the Steelers to turn to the draft to get another young punter that is cheap.

  • Tanner

    The starting line next year needs to look like Starks, Kemoeatu, Pouncey, Pouncey, Colon/Adams. Then sign Ike, and Woodley, then maybe go after a free agent CB like Champ. He wants to be on a superbowl winning team and with him our D will look real nice. DE are looking okay Hood showed he is good, but NT we need. So draft wise get Pouncey first then a CB, and then a NT, then a DE, and maybe finish it off with a speed receiver

  • Brad

    My O-line next year would be Starks-Kemo-Pouncey-Colon at RG-Adams. I really like Flozell this year and think we can get another year out of him. Bring back Scott as a backup tackle with Legursky seems like a good backup center after his performance in the SB. Foster is good as a backup guard. I thought Essex was good as backup tackle. I other words I like the line the way it is now as long as Colon and Starks come back strong.

    The draft should focus on an aging defense more than anything. Draft a corner #1, then a nose tackle to groom as Hampton’s replacement #2. Sweed comes back and hopefully boosts the WR’s as Ward is another year older. Get a tackle with #3. I was actually impressed with the punter we have, don’t draft one let Koponos and Sepulveda battle it out in camp. Maybe draft a kicker in the 7th round but no sooner. Take a safety in the 4th round.

    And of course, bring back Ike and Woodley. We can’t let Woodley go as he is the one of the few younger guys on the D. I say bring back Spaeth, it will be hard to find a better option in the late rounds. He is a solid backup.

  • Marcus

    Tanner, I like that idea, but I’d rather get asomugha instead of champ! Offensive with both pounceys would do work…Maybe even keep flozell one more yr..Get rid of William Gay..We need depth at in our secondary the most..You would think the rooneys would knl this after being carved up by brees, brady n rodgers!!!

  • Da Hamma

    Will the Steelers ever invest in a free agent like N. Asamoah at CB? I know it’s not the Steeler way, but he’s a shut down corner & apparently a solid citizen off the field too. Perhaps the Steelers might be able to get him at a discounted rate due to the Steelers great defensive history being an attraction of sorts.

  • dave

    I would have to say, forget about Champ Bailey or Nmandi Asoumga (or a high priced O-lineman for that matter). There will likely be a salary cap under the new CBA. The Steelers won’t have cap space. The Steelers always focus on keeping their own guys – Ike Taylor, Woodley, Colon, Timmons, etc, etc… You can pretty much guarantee they aren’t signing a ‘big name’ free agent unless it is one of their own.

    As for the draft, I agree that Mike Pouncey probably won’t be on the board at 31. It’s a copy-cat league and someone in the teens or 20s will look at all the success Maurkice had with us and take a virtual clone. If he’s there at 31, I’d be fine with taking him.

    Some other guys that might make sense at 31 are OT – Gabe Carimi, Anthony Castonzo, Derek Sherrod (one of them might still be there), CB – Jimmy Smith or Aaron Williams, NT Phil Taylor. DE JJ Watt would be a great fit, but he will be gone before pick 31.

  • steeler junkey

    Agreed at the 31st pick a lot is going to depend on who is left.
    There will be a lot of players worth a mid 2nd round pick , but the Steelers will have to put some serious info together to find players that could be that player who gives them the best fit for the team.
    I like the players you mentioned, But I would not rule out, FS , WR or TE if the right one falls to them.
    OL players I like later on are Carpenter, Hairston , Rackley , Moffit.
    I also like Watkins and Ijalana but don’t think they will be worth 1st round picks and there is a good chance they maybe gone by the Steelers 2nd round pick.
    CB and FS Moore. later House ,Marsh ,Jarret, Gilchrist
    Many , many choices to make.

  • Bryan Simpson

    No mention of WR, last two winners of Super Bowels had 4 deep at WR. Are Brown, Sanders, Ward, and Wallace the equivalent of 4 deep?

  • Fred

    Offensive line and secondary and I can’t imagine how good the QB and RB mendenhall would be with an offensive line. The secondary beat the steelers this year that and the offensive line.