Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Draft Needs

By Chris Ransom

Offensive Tackle Depth I said on this site that the Packers would win Super Bowl 45 because of the fact they had the edge at left tackle and cornerback.  Until Charles Woodson’s injury the Packers were dominating the contest 21 to 3 proving my point to be spot on.  Green Bay ended up winning the game 31 to 25 capturing their first Super Bowl in 15 seasons. The Steelers need depth at left tackle and right tackle.  Jonathan Scott did terrible allowing a league high 18 sacks as a left tackle and Max Starks is coming off a severe back injury the same kind of back injury that ended Marvel Smith’s career.  Flozell Adams is nearing retirement and since Colon won’t return the Pittsburgh Steelers need depth at both the offensive tackle positions.  Left Tackle is more important than the right tackle position and just for safety measures in case Starks does not recover you need a left tackle who can step in.  This team will fall short in the postseason again without a quality left tackle for depth in case Starks gets injured.  I know some fans are thinking we only need a right tackle because Starks is pretty good, but if he cannot stay healthy who is going to step up and become Ben Roethlisberger’s blindside.  Starks started a trend of bookend tackles that started at right tackle and moved to left tackle along with Carolina Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross.  If you want to risk moving Adams back to left tackle than this strategy to take a right tackle in the first round works, but the one of the golden rules to drafting is to take a left tackle in the first round.  Plus Adams footwork looked sloppy when he was zone blocking against Clay Matthews in the Super Bowl.  I guess you could make the argument that you get a guy start him out at right tackle while plugging Adams inside at right guard moving your right tackle to left tackle and Adams back to right tackle should Starks get injured again, but I don’t think that is a very smart decision from a buisness standpoint.

This team has the interior offenisve line to win now they just need the tackles to fall to them.  A lot of people believe this team will go with a right guard like Mike Pouncey because they would like to see the brothers play together.  Ramon Foster did well as a right guard and he was a left tackle coming out of college.  Pittsburgh may have found his strong point at right guard.  The Steelers also got Trai Essex and can have Doug Legursky for depth.  All the guards that could go in the late first round are left tackles who could slide into left guard.  Besides Scott who surrendered 18 sacks none of the Steelers offensive lineman allowed more than 5 sacks which is a major improvement from last year.  I don’t know if they deserve the credit though because Roethlisberger ran out of the pocket to avoid a few sacks by scrambling.  There are three SEC Studs who can play left or right tackle.  Joseph Barksdale of LSU is your pass blocker, Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State is your run blocker, and James Carpenter of Alabama is your zone blocker.  Another option is Marcus Cannon a 6 foot 5 350 pound right tackle who can plug inside to right guard.  I’m not saying right guard is out of the question, but taking an interior offensive lineman is foolish unless your getting an exceptional talent like Logan Mankins of the New England Patriots or Maurkice Pouncey of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Another honorable mention goes to New York Jets center Nick Mangold.

Cornerback The Pittsburgh Steelers need to get a cornerback.  They have made no attempt to resign Ike Taylor plus there are better corners on the market in terms of free agents.  Getting a #1 corner is their top priority because they have a #2 corner in McFadden and a nickel corner in William Gay.

Free Safety There are two free safeties that the Steelers could go with.  Rahim Moore a first round prospect who may have to make the move to nickel corner due to being undersized and Robert Sands the 6 foot 5 230 pound free safety.  The Steelers will draft a successor to Ryan Clark and Ryan Mundy the current backup went to West Virginia.  Sands is bigger than Taylor Mays last years strong safety out of USC in terms of size as Mays was 6 foot 4 225 pounds.

Nose Tackle Both Casey Hampton and Chris Hoke are in their 30’s.  Pittsburgh has to get a nose tackle at some point.

3-4 Middle Linebacker The Pittsburgh Steelers have to find a successor to James Farrior.  Big 10 middle linebackers Martez Wilson of Illinois and Greg Jones of Michigan State will be considered.

3-4 Right End The Pittsburgh Steelers have to find a 3-4 right end to succeed Brett Keisel.  They found their successor to Aaron Smith in Evander Hood now known as Ziggy Hood.  Getting an end for the 3-4 is critical because this defense is aging and Hood is the only long term piece that this defensive line has right now.  The Pittsburgh Steelers are a defense that is built to win now, there not a defense that is built to win in the future down the road like New England’s defense.

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