Now, I'm pretty sure we all know the story of how James Farrior was originally an OLB for the NYJ, a 1st round pick, but didn't exactly work out in their system. He hit the free agent market, and the Steelers welcomed him with open arms. I think there's another LB out there right now that, although he'll be a RFA under the lack of a CBA, might just be the next James Farrior: an outside linebacker who would make an eventual great ILB, and could come at a great price.
Enter Derrick Johnson.
First off, he was drafted 15th overall in the 2005 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. That's gotta tell you he's got a great amount of potential, as most people who get drafted in the top 16 usually do.
However, in his years in KC, the coaches have fallen out of favor with him. He hasn't had much of a starting role, and instead was relegated to nickel LB duties this season.
Although he pretty much fails as a premier, pass-rusing OLB, he's nevertheless managed to pick off six passes over the last 3 years. Also, you probaby heard his name mentioned in the 44-24 drubbing by the Chiefs over the Broncos. In fact, you probably heard his name twice. Because that's how many times he intercepted Kyle Orton. And how many times he took those interceptions in for touchdowns.
Yes, there have been rumors spreading around about other teams trying to snag Johnson, so the Steelers may have a tough time getting him. However, if they do, he'd be an amazing value pick, as he's only been in the league for 5 years, and played only sparingly this past season. With the lack of star ILBs in this year's draft (I'm not exactly sold on Brandon Spikes; he's a liability in coverage, and that eye-gouging incident is still fresh in my mind. Doubt the FO wants to be associated with that kind of a player), we should look instead to try and get a LB in free agency.
Keyaron Fox is also from KC, so he'll probably be quite vocal in trying to bring Derrick Johnson to the Black and Gold organization. I wouldn't mind giving up a 2nd or 3rd round pick for him, as we'd probably have used it to get a LB that probably wouldn't be as good as DJ.