NFL Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers replacing Ben Roethlisberger?
Pittsburgh Steelers Possible Draftees
As Championship Sunday is only a day away, Pittsburgh Steeler fans can be forgiven for trying to distract themselves from seeing their most hated rival, the Baltimore Ravens, compete in their second straight AFC Championship Game; or they could just be watching and cheering on the New England Patriots. Either way, looking at the Steelers draft prospects isn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday without football.
After an 8-8 season that was below par for the men of the steel city, they find themselves picking 17th overall and in a great position to add a very talented player to their roster. With Pittsburgh’s calling card historically being their defense, and finding themselves getting very old on that side of the ball (6 of their 11 starters have 10+ years in the league), they are most likely going to try and take one of the drafts top defensive talents.
Whilst I believe that there’s only a few true top 5 talented players in this draft, there’s a fair amount of talent depth on the defensive side of the ball and with the Steelers picking at 17 they have the opportunity to get a player with the talent to warrant the pick and obviously without the price tag that comes associated with the higher picks.
Pittsburgh are one of the more respected teams when it comes to the draft and will need to use all their nous to pick up someone that’s going to contribute right away and be a long term fixture for the ball club.
The following slides highlight some of the potential options I believe the Steelers will have.
1) Ezekiel Ansah – OLB/DE, BYU
The words 'athletic freak' get thrown round quite a lot when it comes to the draft process, and Ezekiel Ansah is such an athlete. He has speed that could have made him a track star and has great size and length for a rush end at 6’6” and the bulk at 272 lbs to be a factor against the run. The only reason he’s not a top 10 pick is due to him being very raw and needing a fair bit of coaching to be an every down play at the NFL level, along with a lack of production in college. I would say he’s the best choice if the Steelers are set to rebuild their defense, but not the best if they want to make another Super Bowl run.
If Available: Alec Ogletree – ILB, Georgia
2) Jonathan Jenkins – DT, Georgia
With Casey Hampton having his best years way behind him, it’s time for Pittsburgh to get another space eater. At 363 lbs Jonathan Jenkins is definitely a speace eater and is one of the best against the run in the draft and whilst nowhere near as good against the pass, in the Steeler system he doesn’t need to be. With good rep-management he will be a force to be reckoned with at the next level.
If Available: Johnathan Hankins – DT, Ohio State
3) Matt Elam – DB, Florida
This one might be a little off of the beaten draft track, but with Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark having been in the league for 11 and 10 years respectively, it’s time to add a safety that fits into the Pittsburgh Steeler mould. Matt Elam is a safety that is excellent in run support and can deliver the big hit to anyone coming across the middle. He could be a big riser in the run up to the draft if he has a good pro day and the scouts find more positives when they break down his tape. Like I said, not many acknowledge this possibility, but the Steelers do need help at safety and he could be a possible choice.
If Available: Kenny Vaccaro – DB, Texas
The Steelers need help on defense, no doubt, but there’s quite a few rumours circulating that the Steelers could be in the market for a QB to backup and eventually replace the oft-injured Ben Roethlisberger. After putting some thought into it, I have to recognise this as a very real possibility, with Matt Barkley (USC) most likely no longer being considered a premium QB and Mike Glennon (North Carolina State) looking likely to streak up draft boards, the opportunity to take one of these guys and sit him behind Big Ben for a year or so to develop could set the Steelers up well at quarteback for years to come. Think Ryan Mallet in New England. Not being fully into the draft process yet makes this whole situation a little hazy right now, but don’t be surprised if this scenario comes to pass.