Steelers Draft Thoughts From The Couch During The Playoffs

By Christopher DiMarino

I was enjoying some playoff football when I read Jeremy Hritz\’s article relating to the importance of the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting some elite talent to replace Mike Wallace,  but it ended up breeding more and more thoughts so I decided to write a speculatory article instead. The initial thought was that the 1st pick should go to defense in the form of a pass rushing proficient outside linebacker type to replace James Harrison. However, Jeremy\’s article was very thought provoking because it makes so much more sense to draft an offensive player. The defense was ranked very high once again this past season but it will look quite different this year, and even more different the following year as more familiar faces depart. The offense, on the other hand, struggled to find its identity and needs a running back and wide receiver.

I\’m not going to get into draft eligible players or position analysis quite yet, but let\’s explore where the merit is. We\’ve heard so much about getting a receiver with some size to make the life of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a little easier and increase the facets that defenses have to protect against. This offense needs to get it together and the financial situation would be helped by a young talented receiver earning less money on a rookie contract for up to 4 years. That decision is important but might get nulled out if the Steelers can\’t run the ball. The offensive line will have to hope for more stability and less injuries, but the last year\’s draft additions of David DeCastro and Mike Adams in the top 2 rounds should imply the offensive line won\’t get any attention early in the draft. Running backs are tough to draft because they typically don\’t last as long in the NFL as other positions might and many teams find successful options outside of the 1st round.

So we have limited the Steelers needs into what might happen in the first round. Wide receiver, outside linebacker and safety are the highest profile options in the first round. However, while an even minded person might suggest that since the offense needs the most help that wide receiver is the favorite, we have to remember that the Steelers are not aggressive in drafts. They let players come to them and often go for the best player available. I think those 3 positions will allow the Steelers to find someone without having to reach, while still allowing them to capitalize if a desired player drops a few spots.

So since the first round is always the most speculated on and the most highly debated pick, I would narrow Steelers fans searches to receivers, safeties and outside linebackers. Dave Bryan has already begun putting up some draft profiles on a pair of edge rushers who have raw potential but are projects at best that would find easier success in other systems. The Steelers have never really gone for the speed demon, long bodied outside linebackers but instead favor the thicker, power rushers who have an easier time plugging the run as well. So my advice would be, if you\’re going to draft a project at outside linebacker, draft him after the 1st and leave the focus to a wide receiver. The backup plan would be to grab a safety if the wide receivers go early.

  • steeltown

    I think thats pretty right in my opinion.. LB, S, WR whichever falls to them and if the ones that they covet are no longer there I still believe trading back into the 20’s is an option, getting an extra pick while still getting one the top Safety or WR prospects or maybe even TE Eifert and then getting someone like LB Chase Thomas is the 2nd Rd

  • ox-burgh

    I think we need to test free agency in a big way and snag either Jared Cook or Martellus Bennet and definitely use our first round pick on a ball hawk corner such as Justin Hunter. The 2nd & 3rd round picks should be wr & rb. I think we need to grab another te such as Michael Williams in the 6th round, as he may still be available. This year the Steelers need to address offense! Look at the Ravens and what they have done. The Steelers are sort of in the same boat but we need need to score more than 20 points per game. One last note, I think Travis Fredrick would be a great guard to grab in the 5th round!

  • grw1960

    I agree it all depends on what players are still on the board when the Steelers turn comes. Though they need so much. At least one quality offensive skill player needs to be picked in this draft some where in the first 3 rounds.

    And if there is a special player they covet within reach. I could see them trading up. But at the moment there doesn’t seem to be any offensive skill players worth trading up for. There are several WRs , TEs and RBs I like but most are late 1 to early 3d round talents.
    There seems to be a lot of 2nd day talent at WR , RB, TE and Safety. But if they don’t resign Mendy, RB will be the weakest offensive position on the team. Even though I still am not sold on Gilbert’s ability to be one of the starting OTs

    This will be a very interesting Steelers draft to follow. Even after we see who is kept , resigned and the salary cap figures are turned in.

  • steeltown

    I agree with that. There really are alot of options come day 2 of the draft.. and I think everyone is forgetting the TE position. Heath will be another year older and still recovering from his injury come minicamps and Paulson is the only other viable TE with upside on roster and he is no more than a #2 at best. Pope will most likely not be re-signed and Will Johnson is more of a Fullback/TE hybrid

  • Jollyrob68

    I like Dion Jordan-He is the speedster type OLB you mentioned and perhaps we should make that adjustment. Joey P wasn’t lanky/or stout but had nice speed. I still think its time to get Worilds on the field. It’s time for a new set of eyes to run the defense. Its’ Butler Time.
    I’d like a Safety,OLB,ILB or RB LAcy in the first. I’d move back and take ND Tight End also……..MAnti Te’o is still on my draft board

  • Jps6513

    Justin hunter isn’t a corner

  • steeltown

    I think Worilds needs to play more as well.. and I would be just fine with them taking TE Tyler Eifert… Miller might not even be 100% at the start of next season and then once he is healthy the Heath and Eifert duo would be awesome!

  • Broderick Wallace

    Steelers can improve the pass-rush by having Tom Shaw or any trainer for that matter whip Woodley back into shape. They also need to draft an ILB who can get to the QB.

    We only have two ILB’s, Timmons & Spence. ILB should be the higher priority. People seem to forget that ILB’s must be able to get to the QB when the OLB’s drop into coverage. The Fire-X blitz has not been effective for past several years because Timmons does not shed blockers well and Farrior/Foote have lost a step or two with age.

    All OLB prospects that will be available #17 overall in 2013 draft
    will be a project player and it makes ZERO sense to select one. OLB
    position minus Harrison has depth (Woodley, Worilds, Carter, Robinson)
    and as Chris said, should not be addressed in the 1st round.

    If Patterson isn’t available, I’d select Vacarro.

  • ox-burgh

    oops….you’re absolutely correct. I meant Johnthan Banks and Justin Hunter as a 2nd round pick at WR, as I think he would be available. Stepfan Taylor would be that 3rd round RB.

  • steeltown

    I still think Foote comes back for one more season, he already said he’d play for less money.

    Would take Patterson or Vaccaro in a heartbeat, the thing is, like mentioned in the above article the Steelers need talent at a number of positions.. and players always fall, I bet there will be someone that falls right into their laps on day 1 of the draft in one of the positions that is of need

  • Kolie Oak

    Jonathan Hankins all the way…

  • Kolie Oak

    Ziggy is a bust, let’s hope Cam doesn’t turn out mediocre as well…

  • Kolie Oak

    If we can’t trade up to snag Hankins than trade down for 2 #2nd rounders…

  • Jake

    Took Keisel forever to get a hang for professional ball. Ziggy will come around

  • SteelSpine

    I think you nailed it. A problem tho is we need too many 1-2 rounders now:
    – Very desperatly need an OLB who will not require our usual years to develop. Already proved cannot count on health of Worlids/Harrison. Maybe not even Woodley, that’s why I actually think we’ll draft 2 OLBs by the time 7 rounds end.
    – Ditto stong safety; desparat there, cannot wait years to develop one, alredy proved cannot count on health of Polu for anything.
    – Also need to draft a backup FS now (if Will Allen leaves) because we were lucky Ryan Clark did not miss much time this past year – stop pushing our luck with Clark’s health.
    – Cryin shame we have to use one of our 1st several rounds on a WR, because seemed like only about a year ago we we appeared deeper than any other NFL team at WR. ESanders gets squashed. Wallace is gone as no way Rooneys would reward anyone for skipped all offseason & preseason. (Plus Wallace showed not tough enough to fight for balls.) Ben needs a big WR target whom Ben can find.
    – Ditto a cryin shame we have to spend a pick higher than a 4th rounder now on a RB. It’s just because Mendenhall didnt pan out to be dependable enough. Bottom line is if sign Mend, cannot count on him for more than 8 games next year, because injuries or get himself benched. And cannot count on Dwyer to show up in shape next summer, & he & Redman are best suited as backups.

    So would be good year to trade down into 20’s to add a 2nd 2nd-rd pick this year, tho teams prefer to give their 3rd instead of their 2nd rounder.

    All our high needs means assistant coaches of our other positions are gonna have to make do without more help this year. That’s assuming the only FAs we bring in are the ones no teams want to bid for, because that’s the Rooneys’ M.O. Also I’m not counting late-round picks, other than Beachum most late-rounders their 1st year help only on special-teams at-most. So:
    – I feel sorry for whoever coaches this offensive line: that coach is gonna have to make do with the bodies we already have there. I dont have enough faith in our OL to say we dont need a high pick there, but Steelers will feel they’ve already invested so many high picks on OL, they wont spend another high pick there this year. Ditto that same reason is why they wont spend a high pick on any DLineman.
    – Spending high picks on desperat needs at other positions, means no ILB in first 4 rounds for us. I think our defensive staff will be able to make do fine out of all the many bodies we have, for ILB.

  • SteelSpine

    Go after other teams’ FA’s “in a big way”? Not the Rooneys; Rooney’s dont compete for other teams’ FAs.

  • Dan

    I was going to comment that I’m still holding out hope we can come to an agreement with Wallace. It would be great if we can still include an occasional long ball in our game plans and Wallace has done a great job at times in the past. But your comment that Wallace is not tough enough to fight for balls really does bring up a great point. As many great catches as he’s made he really doesn’t seem to have that “my ball dammit!” mentality. After watching Anquan Bolden in the playoffs, I really would like a WR that is tough and strong and just takes the ball. Flacco has had great numbers the last few weeks, but realistically he doesn’t have pin point accuracy. Bolden has been holding his position against DBs and plucking the ball away. We would be well served with more attitude like that in the WR corps. I feel like Wallace’s inner dialogue is more like “oh shucks he cut in front of me….guess I’d better chase him for a bit.”
    Wonder how Hines would do as a WR coach?

  • SteelerDave

    I feel we trade to drop down in the 1st and snag an extra late 2nd rounder. The talent pool for most of our positions of need is deep but lack a true blue chip first rounder.

  • Clint Martin

    That is because Mike Wallace showed this year he isn’t a great receiver.
    He lacks body control he can’t adjust to the ball in the air, and he rarely ever comes back to the ball, He can’t play the ball at it’s highest point.

    He is not a big money receiver. THE END!
    Anquan Bolden is a more complete receiver.

  • Clint Martin

    What do you do if Chance Warmack is sitting waiting to be picked when Steelers pick?

  • Pete

    I just don’t see a WR in the 1st this time around unless they can get their hands on a Boldin type player with immediate impact. Then again, I’m making my point because Boldin was taken in the 2nd round (56th pick). I’m not seeing a Plax or Santonio pick.

    I am seeing an OLB, a SS for Polamalu, a stud ILB, or a stud TE. The core of the O line is set. CB looks solid and I don’t see the defensive line getting a 1st round pick but you never know if a great DE or DT is available. Another possibility is RB but like WR, you can get a very good RB later. Before Mendenhall, you have to go back to 1989’s Tim Worley to find a 1st round RB.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Yep looks that way to me too.

  • Kolie Oak

    Ziggy doesn’t have the mindset, if Keisel had Ziggy’s body type he’d be an all pro.

  • LucasY59

    Really like the idea of Ward as a coach especially since the WRs were missing something this year after he left. Also agree on the Tough/Physical Mentality (again something that Hines always had as a WR) The WRs excuse this year could be that they were all small/quick receivers, but when Hines was on the team leading those guys I thought they played tougher, especially Sanders, who IMO softened up quite a bit this year compared to his first two years (even though he was injured those years) one more thing is that Ward would make sure the WRs blocked (one of his biggest strengths and another thing missing this year)

  • Jollyrob68

    Draft a skilled player who’s going to play. ie: Wr,Te,Rb, Manti Te’o or a Safety who they’ll put on the field. Elam.
    This draft has good Safeties,Rb,lb

  • Garrett Hunt

    MLB is out? I think we have a pretty pressing need there between Foote and Spence, not a lot is certain there for the future.

  • Clint Martin

    The are probably going to pick a defensive tackle with first round pick. Jesse Williams

  • steeltown

    Take him. No doubt I would take him.

    Its unlikely because of his grade, but the same was said about DeCastro.. its clear Interior linemen are not taken early, ever, so he could very well fall.. BUT I wonder if the Steelers take him if he does.. that would be the ultimate test of holding the Steelers to their mantra of selecting ‘best player available’

    Plus then you could release Colon (after June 1st) and save the $5.5million in base salary owed to him.

    Win win in my opinion

  • steeltown

    Totally agree.

    Except I think Worilds is capable of starting this year and succeeding, but still would draft OLB because Carter is mediocre at best (and also cant stay healthy) and ARobinson is unproven.

    I think Safety is a HUGE need. Mundy should be allowed to walk and if W.Allen goes elsewhere, we are in trouble. One option would be drafting either Vaccaro, Elam or Ried AND trading back as you have mentioned. Trade back into the 20’s and get an extra late 2nd or early 3rd Rd pick while still grabbing someone like Elam. Then with the extra 2nd/3rd rd pick we could possibly grab an OLB, WR and RB all before the 4th Rd

    It is a shame about the WR and RB situation, you could add TE into that discussion as well. Seems not that long ago the Offense seemed stacked with young talent. Not so much anymore.

    Lastly, I have a feeling Foote will return for one more season. He wants to play in Pittsburgh and already said he’d play for less $$$ That with the addition of Brian Rolle and the hopeful emergence of Spence, should make ILB more of a need next year.

  • steeltown

    Yep. Thats why I think they should go after Hopkins in the 2nd Rd, good hands, good body control, very physical, but he might be gone by the time we select. The thing about drafting a stud WR in the early Rds is that he will be owed a relatively low rookie contract for four yrs which helps the cap out for a few seasons as opposed to a big contract that would be paid to Wallace

  • SteelerDave

    Agree. We need a guy like Hopkins. Ward was the best blocking WR in modern times.

  • sean mcmartin

    A wide receiver who has speed is what they need to keep opposing defenses honest. This team needs playmakers. These new d-line men look like average players at best.

  • sean mcmartin

    Excellent Idea..hines ward as a coach..The Steelers do not have anyone with clutch hands. like most of the playoff teams have. The weak dink and dunk offense is not going to be on any FA wish list. Bill Cowher would be a perfect fit to motivate a losing team.

  • sean mcmartin

    Nailed it on the head,,,no Tough ,Hungry Ward .Farrior was a leader as well..Hoping they fix this team as much as the cap allows..