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Three New Years Resolutions For The Pittsburgh Steelers


By Michael K. Reynolds

Not to be lost in the fanfare of the nearly miraculous entry into the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Steelers is the fact the team remains a work in progress when it comes to returning to the elite status it’s enjoyed the past decade.

The good news is this is a team on the rise with an impressive 6-2 finish to the season. The Black and Gold is only a few key plays and players away from being a strong contender once again.

Which means there is much to be optimistic about the 2014 season. A few shrewd moves by the front office could get the team positioned for excellence and with a strong youth movement already afoot, the Steelers could be locked and loaded for many years to come.

But ONLY if they are successful this off-season. Which means this could be shaping up to be the most important period of free-agency and draft time the team has experienced since…well…last year, which was critical as well.

So as we wipe away our tears following the Kansas City Chiefs lay-down, here are three key New Years Resolutions for the Black and Gold.

1. Break the Steelers Free Agency Mold
Almost with a touch of arrogance the Steelers front office has approached free agency as if it is the dalliance of idiots and spendthrifts. However; with so many critical holes in the team, Pittsburgh needs to reinvent itself this off-season and become more of a player in free agency. No. This doesn’t mean flying midnight jets out to pick up 100 million dollar free agents, but the team should be strategic and relentless in its approach to picking up mid-level players who can instantly improve the team. It also means they are going to have to take a hard line with their over-priced, over-the-hill veteran players in order to have some money to spend. It’s time to discover how committed these players are to getting another Super Bowl run before their retirement. This includes Ben Roethlisberger whose new contract extension may have more impact on the Steelers future than anything else.

2. All In for the Defense
Perhaps nothing pointed out the lack of confidence Coach Mike Tomlin had in his defense more than when he unsuccessfully went for it on fourth and 10 on his OWN 10-yard line with the game on the line and ample time on the clock against the Dolphins. The once proud Steelers defense that has carried the team on its shoulders for so many years has been in slow decline since their Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers. The list of deficiencies is long: inability to stop the run, lack of speed in the secondary, and at times a seeming absence of will. This is a team short on leadership and talent and they need to focus all of their attention on bringing this unit back on a rise to glory.

Here’s what is needed on the defense through free agency or the draft:

Resigning of Jason Worilds
Pay the man. It’s clear now the only thing Jason Worilds was missing was an opportunity to play. Without Worilds you are left with an overpriced LaMarr Woodley who can’t stay healthy and Jarvis Jones, who by all measures was a large disappointment as a pass rusher. Whether it’s through reasonable negotiation or a franchise tag this is the biggest no-brainer of the off-season. The 3-4 defense is dead without a pass rush.

Acquire a top-end cornerback and another for depth
When you consider he can’t catch, which eliminates playmaking ability, and with his once-vaunted speed in decline, fan and media favorite Ike Taylor will at best be a mediocre number two cornerback in 2014. There is some talk he may move to safety which would address a loss of speed but would do nothing to cure his dolphin flipper hands. Regardless, if he’s willing to take a major pay cut, Ike can still help the Steelers for another couple of years, but it’s time for the team to invest in their next great cornerback of the future. Could that be Cortez Allen? He’s demonstrated he’ll be at least be a strong number two, so he must be extended. But with this pass-happy league, the Steelers will need a “ready to play” cornerback in one of the top two rounds of the draft or through free agency. They’ll need another quality pick in rounds three to five.

Promotion of Shamarko Thomas to safety and acquire another for depth
The acquisition of Will Allen provided some initial stabilization to the defense, but it also stunted the progress of rookie Shamarko Thomas who lost precious playing time. The Steelers invested a 2014 third round draft pick in the young cannonball and they should commit to him at one of the safety positions next year.

Upgrade at inside linebacker
Larry Foote is too old. Vince Williams is too slow. Terence Garvin is not strong enough. Sean Spence is still a pipe dream. Put them together and you might have a player, but this position is too important in the 3-4 to show weakness. This is a prime spot for adding a veteran with some tread on his tire to allow the other players to develop. Or is perhaps Jarvis Jones better suited to inside in the NFL? Regardless of the direction, the Steelers need to get back to greatness at the linebacker position across the board.

Upgrade the front seven against the run
The trademark of the Steelers defense has always been the ability to stop the run. This quality eluded them this season and stands out as a critical leak to fix. Is Steve McLendon unfairly targeted as the problem (as Dave Bryan strongly contends) or is a change at the nose needed? Can Al Woods be the answer? Can Ziggy Hood be resigned and have his strength put to better use? Or with weakness at linebacker and a lack of a Casey Hampton-type nosetackle, should the Steelers consider sprinkling in some 4-3 in their scheme where the talents of McLendon, Woods and Hood may be better suited? This question will need to be answered if the Steelers hope to stop the run in 2014. Keep a sharp eye on the early front office maneuvers as it will tip their hand on their thoughts.

3. Tweak the Offense
One of the biggest surprises of the season is how the offense came together toward the end of the season. The year began with the line being a liability. It ended with the line being a strength. Yes, the run blocking needs to improve but pass protection evolved to be their best in many years. Kelvin Beachum shocked at left tackle. Marcus Gilbert solidified at right. David DeCastro ascended at right guard and Ramon Foster was productive at left. Fernando VelascoCody Wallace, Mike Adams and yes…Guy Whimper proved they can add depth and quality to the roster. Even getting Levi Brown resigned at the veteran minimum could really solidify the bench. Then there is the return of Maurkice Pouncey, which is like adding a free number one draft pick to 2014. Le’Veon Bell…answered the rookie bell and Antonio Brown had an All-Pro type of season and has years of productivity ahead of him. With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger playing at peak performance and using a quick release that could extend his career, the future is looking bright for the offense. But some tweaks are still necessary in order to dominate.

Upgrade at wide receiver
Much depends on what the Steelers do with Emmanuel Sanders. Although most of the Steelers faithful are considering him long gone and saying good riddance to boot, it would behoove the team to make an effort to keep him in Black and Gold. It takes years to develop wide receivers and if they could keep Sanders it would bring stability and youth to that position for years. If Sanders is gone, the Steelers will almost certainly need to use one of their first or second round draft picks on another receiver, a selection which is much more desperately needed for defense. Could they use a tall receiver? Are they missing a deeper threat? Yes…but even this year’s offense is strong enough for a Super Bowl if it was paired with one of our great defenses of the recent past. Hopefully Sanders can learn from his former Young Money buddy, Mike Wallace, and realize just because the cash is green, doesn’t mean the grass is greener. Especially when you’re leaving Heinz Field and Steelers Nation.

Retain the offensive line
The Steelers have all of the quality and depth they need if they are able to retain the players they have on the offensive line. What they need now is an intensive off-season to reduce injuries and to develop strength in order to weave together a powerful unit for years to come. Sign where they can and extend where possible. No need to dabble too much in free agency or to go high in the draft if they can simply keep their own.

Prospect at Tight End
The full return to the health of Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth will be all the Steelers need to make a major upgrade at tight end for 2014. This allows them to get a low-cost, high upside prospect or two to develop over the next couple of years.

What about you? What do you think are the top New Years Resolutions for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

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About Michael K. Reynolds

Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic and author of the acclaimed Heirs of Ireland series. MichaelKReynolds.com
  • SumnerYoung

    Nice article, Michael. Who do you propose the Steelers go after in free agency for ILB? I think Vince Williams has shown good ability, and I think (maybe “I hope” is a better way to say it) that his slowness is more from being a limited snap-count rookie, than from his actual athleticism. Time will certainly tell.

  • mlc43

    Where is the money for all of this? You want to keep Worilds and Sanders. Keep the whole OL. Upgrade through FA at Corner. I mean, seriously, how do we accomplish all these lofty, though admittedly nice, goals?

  • pittsburghjoe

    I like the thoughtfulness placed into this article. However, the CB class does not seem that strong. Its good, but is a guy like Dennard worth the number 15 pick? The same can be said about the safety from Alabama (HaHa Dix). So that takes you to the ILB position, is the Mosely the guy or is he more of a 43 OLB. If the tall WR from A&M is there (Evans 6’5″ – 220, Vincent Jackson Clone) you take him and address defense in the following rounds. The same thing can be said about Sammy Watkins. If those two guys are gone, I think anything is game.

  • pittsburghjoe

    I thought the same thing… they are up against the cap and he wants mid range FA’s and Worilds. It reminded me of my wife when I ask her if she wants dinner or a movie and she says yes.

  • Steve

    Williams was not able to drop into coverage, but that don’t mean he is too slow. He needs taught what to do and what not to do by his coaches. He’s a Thumper and we knew that drafting him.

  • JT

    I don’t think anyone who ever suggests Nix actually knows anything at all about him. For all the crap people give Woodley about being lazy, out of shape, etc. You want them to draft a widely know and proven oaf with their 1st round pick. Poor stamina. Average, at best, mental stamina proven by being offsides prone. Unlike Poe who is a 350 mountain of muscle, Nix is a 350 lb lazy pile of crap. He played 55% of snaps at Norte Dame. THAT’S IT. That equates to about 40 snaps a game.

    Forget how little the Steelers play base defense due to the changing nature of NFL offense, forget how well they did against runs up the middle in 2013, but just focus on whether we really want a to take an unfocused, lazy piece of crap with the 15th pick in the draft just because he eats hamburgers like Casey Hampton instead of doing ballet like Steve McClendon?

  • J. Hernandez

    Honestly, with the 15th pick I’d go for Mack at OLB. Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis later in the draft would be good WRs and big ones. OLB and CB in the first 2 rounds. Some up and comers at DE with Arnfelt and Williams. Re-sign Hood to compete at NT with Mac. Try Carter at ILB, he has speed but was overpowered on the outside. See if you can get anything out of the former draft pick.

  • johnhoien

    Good point.. I feel Inside LB would be high draft pick..Mosley or Mack… Seems we should spend 1-4 picks on D … ILB, Safety, CB, Dline, and throw the dice on WR & RB

  • JT

    To be fair, he didn’t say sign Sanders at all costs. But it makes no sense to send him packing without offering him a modest deal. Do the Patriots still want him after spending a year developing rookies and STILL locking up a bye? We’ll see. Nobody on the line breaks the bank except anything you do with Pouncey or DeCastro. Neither of which have to necessarily happen this offseason. As far as DB, he doesn’t mean upgrade their as much as depth. Assuming they decide to cut or move Ike. Your left with Cortez, Gay, and? Do we want Green getting the nod there? Somebody from FA has to come in with at least some experience if anything is done with IKe.

  • JT

    Read Dave’s latest article. They’re sitting about 12.5 over with the rule of 51. Through two extensions (Ben and Heath), two restructures (Brown and Timmons), two releases (Levi Brown and Foote), and a pay cut for Taylor they can clear about 25 mil in cap space. That’s without touching Troy or Woodley.

    So there’s wiggle room if they want it, for sure.

  • DrakePirate

    I agree, 1st is too high for DB no value there … but we could realistically address both a Safety and CB in rounds 2&3 … best value in 1st is clearly Big WR/TE … i prefer Benjamin to Evans … by a MILE … and that would afford us a trade down if possible … if not i have no issues with him taken 1st

  • DrakePirate

    Carter needs to go period !

  • DrakePirate

    Mike … i couldn’t agree more with point NUMBER 1 .. I really hope the FO makes that leap … as far as Def top picks I’m not on board, best value in 1st is TE/Big WR … in 2nd & 3rd can address the CB/S

  • J. Hernandez

    If Benjamin runs a good 40 Drake, I’m all in for him at 15, otherwise the receivers I mentioned are good options. Mack can rush, run and cover. He’s a beast bro.

  • JT

    I know everyone here LOVES him. But the facts are at 22, and still a pretty raw player with only 2 years under his belt, he’d be a reach at pick 15. He also doesn’t run a good 40. Only about 4.6. He also quits on route and drops balls. Remind Steelers fans of any past wideouts? Would I love to trade down to the mid 20s or early 2nd and grab him there? DUH. But that requires a willing partner. I don’t see him at 15, though.

  • WilliamSekinger

    I have to disagree with Worilds. ‘Pay the man’…really? They already had a ‘can’t go wrong’ extension with Woodley, and have yet to see any production from him since. Do they spend big money on another extension when the OLB in question has produced above average production in only 1 year of his rookie contract? I would prefer they let him walk.

  • J. Hernandez

    That’s why I said “if” he runs a good 40

  • JT

    Didn’t mean to call you out. I love Mack too. Would be nice if fell. Don’t see us being lucky 3 drafts in a row though, lol

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Here is the fundamental problem: our cap issues. I do not want to trade Ben but he is one of the few chips that could bring a haul… AND CAP RELIEF. We have gone . 500 the past two years WITH Ben… What people fail to realize is Ben’s $18 million savings can get us four free agents. Is Ben going to get healthier and better as he ages?

  • DrakePirate

    i have to admit i know nothing of him (Mack) will take a look .. i just know when i see talent and Benjamin looks great … to be honest we NEED both another TE and a BIG WR … but i realise we won’t be able to get both next year … but we need to get at least one of them … I dont see any other Big WR’s or TE’s after the 1st that are even close to those guys

  • DrakePirate

    That REACH philosophy is malarkey … if he’s a starter then he’s a starter … doesn’t matter if you pick him at 15 or 25 … i dont know who started that way of thinking but its Stupid … a true reach is only if u take somebody in the 3rd when you could have easily had him in the 4th or 5th … reaching doesn’t involve a dozen slots up or down IF (a Big IF) u are sold on the guy, then pull the trigger !!

  • JT

    Posts like this makes me wish Dave banned more people.

    First of all, you don’t save $18 million cutting Ben. That’s not how contracts work. You clear his $12 mill base, still paying the other $6+ million of his cap charge. Roughly the same deal in 2015. So you’d be without a QB, and still paying Ben a 2 year $12 million contract. Hardly a big haul when you could save almost 25 this year extending him and Heath, restructuring necessities Brown and Timmons, and cutting dead weight. Move along from this idea.

  • DrakePirate

    Im in between …. I haven’t seen the most important aspect of keeping him being discussed … and that is how much $$$$$ will it take … i say 5-6 Mil i would keep him … 8-9Mil No WAY … so i guess it comes down to how much ???

  • JT

    Being a reach means there’s higher caliber players available, which there would be in the first half of the draft. Why miss out on a starting ILB, OLB, or FS because you wanted to make sure you got a guy who could have been had in the 2nd? He’s not a top half first round, whether you like him or not. He’s simply not rated that way, except by your “eye” test.

  • JT

    Kruger got 5 years, $40.5 million last year. $6 million signing bonus, $6.285 million roster bonus last year, and a guaranteed salary of $715,00 in 2013 and $7 million in 2014. While Worlids should be slightly less, that’s still a load of dough. Pray for an early signing or hometown discount if you want him back.

  • DrakePirate

    u didn’t read my post … read it again !!!

  • JT

    Nope. I did. Look, I like Benjamin too. He definitely has a lot of potential. However you have to be frugal about when you take players. None of his measurables, stats, or intangibles grade out as a top 15 pick unless he posts the numbers of his life at the combine. Which while possible, is unlikely. With how many needs the team has, taking him high is a luxury. Just because he might be a starter, doesn’t mean whoever they take at 15 wouldn’t be. You can’t pass up on top round talent for a 2nd round guy, late first guy. With the incredible need for QBs, somebody will fall.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Trust me… I know people would say that… I am not usually radical and if we can extend, fine. But JT, we have not improved with wins, that is the reality. Let’s be honest, Ben is not elite like Brees, Manning, or Brady, is he? It is not about Ben, it is about the financial health of the entire team. So, hypothetically, we trade for a pick and draft Derek Carr (for example)… We win five games and have a longterm future at qb while having FA capabilitieswould at least be able to truly be in rebuild mode instead of this purgatory

  • Steeler Fanatic

    … and I am not a capologist but you have to pay that money eventually… The Steelers have to get off that carousel… So if the Rams would offer two number 1s and a two, you would walk away, c’mon man.

  • JT

    Just because he doesn’t put up the stats doesn’t mean he’s not a borderline HoF. I know it’s frustrating because we’ve seen what this team can do. But you have to look at the rest of the QBs BEHIND Ben, not the crown jewels in front. Let’s take a look at recent 1st round QB classes, excluding top 5 picks because we’ve seen what trading for that does to a team:

    2012: Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden
    2011: Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder
    2010: Tim Tebow
    2009: Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman
    2008: Joe Flacco
    2007: Brady Quinn
    2006: Matt Leinhart, Jay Cutler
    2005: Aaron Rodgers, Jason Campbell

    Now, except for Rodgers and Flacco, how many of those teams consider their guys “longterm futures” for the organization? The reality is picking QB is far from a lock or science. Ben is proven, and really has incredible success given his lack of protection and weapons. We don’t treasure how lucky the Steelers really got when they drafted him.

  • JT

    Ask the Browns or Vikings if they’d rather have a QB or cap space. It’s that simple. The team was in 15 out of 16 games, and that’s because they have their QB. His importance to the team is unparalleled, and will only grow in the future thanks to the changing of the NFL.

  • David Edward

    Hi Michael, agree with most of what you propose but your assessment of ILB is way off. Vince Williams too slow? He’s a sub 4.8 guy. No he’s not a burner, but I’ve seen him demonstrate that he has the necessary sideline to sideline speed to play the position. I think the Steelers coaches would say he’s progressed nicely and has a good shot of being the starting Buck again next year. Not sure why some fans think a second every down ILB is needed. Steelers only play their base 34 about 1/3 of the time…more time is spent in nickel, dime, and quarter sub packages. Williams can be a nice base ILB with a guy like Garvin or Spence (if he recovers) platooning in the sub packages. If they draft anything, it will be that type of hybrid player in the later rounds.

    Same argument goes for those fans who think a NT like Louis Nix should be drafted #1. Unless he’s a Donrari Poe type athlete, it’s a waste for a part timer. That’s why the Steelers didn’t bring Hampton back and went with McClendon who’s a combo NT/DE type. Big Snack was one of the best NTs ever but times are changing. Teams will go hurry up on a big body plugger in the middle and make him become a pass rusher, tire him out, then run on him when he’s pooped.

  • DrakePirate

    I guess i have to spell it out … here’s my way of thinking (the right way of thinking by the way)

    If he is doubtful to make it to the Steelers in the 2nd round then he can’t be had by the steelers in the 2nd … not sure where exactly he will end up being graded out … i think now he is around 25-30 (late 1st) … what I’m saying is u dont pick a guy that is graded out at 15 just because he grades higher than the guy u like, want and target the guy who is at 25 … a BIG WR is much more of a need than OLB right now … he will start right away, be an immediate impact which an OLB WONT …. look at JJ he was supposed to be an amazing Talent … and we will be lucky to get greatness from him in year 3 …

    I have no problem with picking up one of the TE’s in the 1st … but going strictly by grades and Best Available is a completely Flawed Theory …… COMPLETELY flawed … bottom line i dont care where u get the guys .. if u pick starters u pick starters … how many times have people picked best available and they are busts .. best available is an illusion …. they should go by Need & probability of Success … for example Eifert was a 90% plus probability of success last year, while JJ was more like 60-70% …

    I know its a hard thing to explain … but I’ve seen it year in and year out … pick the guys u think will start !

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Good points… Just frustrated that we can’t be more active in free agency when Colbert misses on picks… and he will miss on picks. I think our line has actually stabilized and developed through attrition…not as concerned on the ilb situation, but am worried about olb, secondary and wr depth

  • DrakePirate

    Worilds aint taking a home town discount … so basically u are thinking he will be offered around 7 mil/yr give or take ?? i think that is too much … i remember at the beginning of the season it was looking like his career was almost over and he’d be lucky to get 2 mil … how a half a season changes things … it sucks … i guess the steelers gambled wrong and now they have to suffer the consequences

    last year with limiting playing time and 5 sacks should have been enough of a sign to lock him up at a modest contract of 2-3 mil … we are not to good at hedging our bets !

  • JT

    It’s been a frustrating few years for sure, but the truth is this is how the NFL is structured to perform. The cap is doing it’s job in Pittsburgh: making life miserable for a winning organization. Everyone misses on picks, but a lot of them do it with picks much higher than guys like Colbert and Ozzie Newsome. Look at how broken the league is this year, the Steelers are far from alone in worry heading into 2014.

  • RW

    You fail to mention special teams, which could use a big boost. It’s time to get Brown out of punt return duties, and I’d like to see the team go after Dexter McCluster hard. He could serve two roles – the punt returner and the change of pace back. Plus he has familiarity with our offensive coordinator…. just saying.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Agreed… Rozelle wanted parity and he got it. I am talking out of both sides of my mouth… But our offense is really close to being dynamic. Our defense is in need of ball hawks… Hope my responses have taken me off the banned list. lol

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Great idea… With Bell on his rookie contract, you can invest a 3 yr deal with him before Bell is due bigger $$$.

  • JT

    I’d like a big WR for sure, just don’t wanna miss out on a defensive playmaker for it. It did, just ease up on the caps lock in those types of posts. lol

  • pittsburghjoe

    Then dont pick Nix. Hopefully guys like Evans or Watkins are there. I would like to see them get a player that has the ability to make big plays…fill in the the name ______ here.

  • RW

    That’s the idea.

  • pittsburghjoe

    I would have no problem with either…. as long as they grade out as a top 15 pick.

  • JT

    If they stay 15, pre-combine Evans, Watkins, or maybe even Lee from USC fit that. Benjamin is the wildcard.

    However, I’d trade picks 1-3 for a ballhawk on defense. Don’t care if he plays FS or CB. I’m sick of having to make pagan scarifies for this team to get a TO.

  • DrakePirate

    again with the grades ,,,, grades are irrelevant …

  • David Edward

    You’re right Drake, things can change quickly in a season. Worilds is this year’s Kruger and he will get Kruger money. Even so, that is still much better than the outrageous amount they would have to pay Woodley. He is due $8M, $8.5M, and $9M in base the next 3 years. That $25.5M can be used towards Worilds who is a player coming into his prime rather than heading out of it. Yes, all big deals are risky, but you have to go with the lesser of the two risk here.
    Here’s any example of how a 5/$40M for Worilds could work: Let’s say the signing bonus is a hefty $20M. Spread out over 5 years that’s $4M per.
    ’14 – base $1M + $4M pro rate bonus = $5M cap (even adding in Woodley’s dead $ of $5.6 that’s still $3M cap savings)
    ’15 -base $1.5M +$4M = $5.5M cap (add in Woodley dead $ of 8.6 and they’re cap neutral)
    ’16 – base $5M+$4M = $9M (almost $3M savings vs. Woodley)
    So that’s a $6M savings to keep Worilds who should be a more productive player over that time frame than Woodley.

  • Chad H

    Benjamin has some off field issues and I believe would end up more Terrell Owens type. I would not hesitate on Evens in the first or Anthony Barr at OLB if he falls. Both are safe 1st rounders. I don’t see 1st rd value at DB maybe Gilbert at CB but that would be it.

  • Nolrog

    Couldn’t agree more. 1) I’ve been saying to my buddy for a while now that we need a Ryan Clark/James Farrior kind of FA. A good solid player to come in and help anchor the defense. And I agree about the old expensive guys. We need to get out of these cap issues once and for all.

  • Nolrog

    Another OLB? We have 3 including 1 that likely will be gone (not sure if that will be Woodley or Worilds yet.) There are far greater needs on D than another OLB.

  • DrakePirate

    Evans has Mediocrity to Bust at the next level written all over him … far from a “Safe ” 1st round pick … definitely not looking for OLB in 1st again either …

    Im curious to why you compare Benjamin to TO … what off field issues have u heard ? how he interviews and his character definitely will weigh in whether we are interested in him … I think we got to be more careful in that regards after the last few years

  • J. Hernandez

    Well, you don’t know if someone else running the 3-4 will make a better offer to Worilds and Woodley is injury prone lately. Who do we have after that? Sylvester and Carter? J.Jones will be a beast next year. As for needs, a FS and corners.

  • DrakePirate

    i dont care what his 40 time comes in … I’ve seen his speed .. he plays with decent speed … i would be much more worried about Evans … he plays Slow regardless of 40 time

    By ur theory no one should have drafted Jerry Rice high be cause his 40 time was 4.6 … forget about the 40 time …. its all about whether he plays fast or not on the field !

  • J. Hernandez

    Listen Drake, I hope he runs a terrible 40 so we can draft him.

  • JT

    You keep throwing these baseless accusation at Evans, with no reasoning whatsoever.

    Benjamin is 23 because he had to repeat 3rd and 7th grade because of legal issues. So he’s further behind in development than others at his age and raw with only 2 college seasons. He’s also know for running sluggish routes and giving up on plays.

  • DrakePirate

    Is it possible that he can fall to the mid 2nd … it would be crazy if we could pick up a TE and Benjamin … i think the safe thing to do is trade back and take whatever they give u … either a 3rd or a 4th depending how many slots … otherwise the safe bet is a TE in the middle of the 1st … who do u like in the mid 1st as of now ?

  • J. Hernandez

    I like the DE/DT out of Minnesota, but honestly it would be nice if they traded down a couple of spots and picked up that 3rd rounder. I would take Sammy Watkins over Benjamin in the first.

  • Matt Searls

    Oh I wish we could go into St. Louis and steal their draft picks. With a top corner like justin Gilbert, a receiver like mike Evans, And a tackle like Louis nix. We would be set. I’d trade away all of our other picks for that haha

  • JT

    Agreed J. But although not impossible, another 1st round DE would certainly ruffle some feathers. Personally, I hope they take a hard look at Haha Clinton-Dix. His suspension was bogus, but he’s the best FS in draft. Maybe that’ll help him fall to 15.

  • JT

    It’s not a need, but you can’t pass up on a playmaker like Barr or Mack if they were to fall. They’re game changers in the 3-4.

  • Chad H

    Look him up. Also see what JT posted sorry but Benjamin is not Steelers material. Evans not sure what you are talking about looks and sounds pretty legit. Don’t want to use a 1st on OLB but JJ looks like an ILB and with Woilds and Woodley not sure who we will have if Barr falls in this draft grab him.

  • JT

    I don’t think he’s gonna like what I posted. lol

    Yeah I’d love Barr. The huge need for QBs in the top 10 gives me hope, but I’d be shocked if he made it past teams like the Falcons and Giants. But stranger things have happened. Mack I’m not as in love with, but would certainly make for a bright future at both OLB positions.

  • http://www.michaelkreynolds.com/ Michael K. Reynolds

    That’s what I love about this Steelers Depot community Dave Bryan has built. Here we are eliminated from playoff contention and the Steelers faithful are already hard at work building the dynasty for next year. Keep the discussion coming. Lots of good dialog and many comments (including those that disagree with me) that have strong merit.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Who is the closest thing to a shut down corner coming into the draft?

  • srdan

    great post

  • srdan

    If wiggle room is referring to signing some of our own, then we have it. His article puts us below hte cap by 12MM. Which about five of it go to the draft. That leaves you with 7. Hood, Wordlis and Sanders would have to share that.

    Troy is scheduled to make 8. More than likely Clark will be paid by ESPN, which leaves us with Golden and the “headache”. I think it’s safe to assume that Polumalu will be back.

    Some money will be had from Ike as well, I believe.

    Keep in mind that by Steeler standards Pouncey should get a deal now. I can’t believe there isn’t more discussion about hte fact taht in teh latter part of the season his loss wasn’t felt. IMO. He may be a casualty in this mess of a cap. And I am ok with that.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I am with you on Sanders. You right on the money.

  • r8erh8er

    Stay away from WRs in rd 1 & 2. Holmes, Burress, Sweed and Edwards were the last 4 WRs picked within the first 2 rounds by the Steelers and none stayed past their initial contracts, stay with what works recently by picking in the middle rounds. As unsexy as it sounds LB should to be priority at the top of the draft as should secondary positions.

  • Jazz

    Addition by subtraction; I agree JT, I’ve been reading plenty of Ed Bouchette articles in previous weeks. What the author is suggesting can be accomplished. However, I disagree with dipping too much into Free Agency. Mike Tomlin and his coaching staff has to do a better job of player development and strength and conditioning. I also disagree with the compliment given to Marcus Gilbert; too often I’ve seen Gilbert get punked and pushed back on the O/L along with Mike Adams. There is no excuse for that; why the hell would you draft these players if they were that weak coming out of college? It shouldn’t take 2-3 yrs for these guys to get stronger. Tomlin has to do a better job of setting his players up for success. Adams is clearly a better RT than Marcus Gilbert, but they started him out on the left in 2013. It’s time for this love affair between Ike and Mr. Rooney to be done! Lets get down to business; Ike has to take a huge paycut along with Troy, their production didn’t match their performance in 2013. Ryan Clark? I agree, see you on ESPN. I do agree about the WR position, if they can resign Sanders, better to do that then bring in a rookie which normally takes 2-3 yrs to develop.

  • mlc43

    Wow..wow….I just don’t know how to reply to such ignorance. Were you alive during the 80s and 90s. Do you remember what it was like WITHOUT Ben. You ride Ben until his arm falls off and then retire him as a Steeler.

  • Jazz

    JT, what is with this infactuation with Pouncey? I don’t see it. He had an all pro rookie year, since then he has been average at best. Truth be told, Velazsco played much better.

  • Jazz

    I wouldn’t touch Marquise Lee from USC. I like the kid, he is fast, but he is too injury prone. If a players has had multiple injuries during college, if he has shown to be lazy and does workout enough on his own to get stronger (Adams/Marcus Gilbert/J.Jones), they why even touch them rounds 1-4?

  • Jazz

    The only way they are keeping Worilds and Woodley, Woodley will have to take a huge paycut.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    And can always tack on incentives

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Great point my only prob with what you said is borderline h.o.f. he is already going only few qbs have multiple rings and he broke some records as well

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I truly believe that bb was having a probowl year last season and if he didn’t get hurt we would have made the playoffs and he had a great year this season and technically robbed out of the playoffs

  • Patrick Reid

    Once again drafting Nix and moving Mac to DE would really squeeze the pocket and make everyone better on D. Nix would pull double teams and really help stuff the run. I would love that pick.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Agreed. They have had terrible picks at WR in early rounds. Take a sure thing in a TE in round 1 then a CB in round 2. That my opinion anyway.

  • westcoasteeler

    Lol! Me too

  • Steeler Fanatic

    It was just a $$$ saving idea. I know Ben’s value… I know… Brister, o’Donnell, Kent Graham… But the front office better invest wiser at other positions. Our eventual cap hit on Ben will be very big, so the team better get their financial house in order… That is not ignorant.

  • boyblt7 .

    Great article! Resign O-Line at vet mininum. Move Jarvis Jones to inside, release Foote, and resign Worilds. Agree about Sanders, if he leaves WR should be 1st Pick. Keep Dwyer and one other, draft another RB/KR/PR. Reign Ben and is contract will determine how to handle the other contracts of Woodley, Taylor, and Polamalu. I like the Taylor to safety idea.

  • Robert Alaniz

    Nice article however, I disagree on Williams and if Big Mac isnt at least part of the reason for the runs up the middle early in the season, who let those guys run full speed right at Vince when he was learning and out of position at times?

    As the season progressed he was flat out thumping people and I only see Vince getting better. I give him a solid B for being a sixth round pick and actually making plays the last quarter of the season.

    My second huh moment is this. Move Jarvis to inside? So he is to slow, not strong enough and people are worried about stenosis however, we want to put him in the middle and take a bunch more violent hits? I think Jarvis will be just fine at OLB.

    I agree on Woodley but lets not forget, Worilds has an injury history and ended the season as such again. Lets get him signed but not get carried away with the cap hit.
    I would go three years and if all is well after that, then make a decision on his final contract as a pro with us.

  • alex

    the IR of Spence and then of Foote really put our run D for 2013 and the future in a hole…

    based on that, what is now our #1 need on D, a starting CB, ILB, OLB, NT?

    and i really think Pouncey became expendable thus giving us more wiggle room to sign our 2014 superbowl team!

    and finally,

    halfway thru the season we really found some answers on offense…i say trade Pouncey keep the rest of the OL, find a 3rd down speed waterbug @ RB, and let Sanders go with Wheaton, and Moye behind him, after signing Cotch for $1…AND THEN, pick a Graham clone @ TE!

  • DrakePirate

    Im basing my evaluation on Evans play both in games and on video …. I’m just not convinced from what i see that his play will transfer over to the NFL .. i just dont see it, much like Manziel … i also think will likely be a bust weak arm, and his skills just dont transfer and way too much of a head case … he would need a perfect scenario of the right surroundings, scheme and coaches to set him straight and put him on the right path. That said, Evans very well might be the next Vincent Jackson ( i just dont see it that way) … on the other hand it takes very little tape to see that Benjamin has what it takes to excel in the NFL … character/off field issues granted are a concern which i know nothing about with him and i hope the steelers due their DD and make the right call.

    i would be worried about a lackluster effort as you point out from benjamin … but i have seen non of that, although i have to admit i have only analysed his videos (not seen games) which actually show high and explosive effort as well as being extremely physical in blocking and receiving ..

    I have to ask are u stating this from watching his games or just hearsay and articles ??

  • DrakePirate

    Doubt the steelers will move JJ inside, in regards to Evans i just dont see his domination continuing in the NFL … what exactly do u think that makes Benjamin not Steelers Material .. ?? are u a seminole fan or seen many games of his ? what exactly are u seeing ?

  • DrakePirate

    i really dont get ur point of view …if he shows low effort and is inconsistent like u say i wouldn’t want him at 25/ 45 or 65 for that matter … if he’s a baller i dont think it matters if we pick him at 15 or 25 … course would like to pick him lower but my point is i think your placing too much emphasis on position in draft rather than if he is a baller and fits our organisation … i think too many teams do that and it end up regretting it.

  • DrakePirate

    Watkins looks nice and definitely a better all around WR than Benjamin … I just think its time to add some serious size to our Off weapons … puts a new dimension on everything …. sometimes its not about having the best players but having the right match ups and chess pieces to work with

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