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A View from the SteelCage…State of the Union Part 2 - Free Agency and the Draft

Part two, like I said it ran a little long.  Enjoy.

Free Agents – Unrestricted and most important first.

 

NT Casey Hampton, Age 32 – I still say the biggest mistake we have made in the last 10 years was not franchising Alan Faneca.  Here is what I wrote on Sportingnews on February 16, 2008:

 

“Many of you are swearing at me right now for even mentioning franchising Alan. That is not fair to him, he has given us many good years and that would affect his career. Well, sorry to say it, but football is a business. We all complained about the line last year, and I am giving you the best option available. Why is it the best, because no matter what, the Steelers win. One of three things happens:

1. We keep him, and have an extra year to draft a few good linemen, without selling the farm in this year’s draft
2. Someone else signs him and we are compensated with a first round pick this year and one next year in order to shore up the line without selling our souls,
3. Sign and trade, hopefully for 1st and 3rd rounder this year or 2nd and 4th this year and 2nd next year to blah blah blah.”

 

I use the same theory with Casey Hampton, although in Casey’s case, a three year deal would be preferable (with weight clauses/bonuses).  I know he has said he will hold out, but I don’t think his agent will advise him to do that.  2011 is looking like it will be a lockout (I know, my personal nightmare, a year with no football).  Casey Hampton is 32 and has a history of “weight issues”.  Holding out this year would mean two years for Casey to eat whatever he wanted and then try to get a long term contract at 34 (35 when the season starts), with what conditioning…It is the same reason I will make this prediction.  The Steelers WILL NOT draft Terrence Cody.  The boy put on 15 pounds in 16 days while prepping for the Senior Bowl.  Imagine what will happen after a season locked out.  While he could end up a stud, the potential for him to eat himself out of the league if there is a lock out is too risky.  Franchise cost for DT is $7.003 million or 120% of last year’s salary, whichever is higher.  Casey’s salary in 2009 was $6,652,084 so his Franchise Tag Cost would be $7,982,500.

 

K Jeff Reed, Age 30.  To sign or not to sign.  Very accurate, although I showed during a previous post that his career numbers at Heinz Field compared to everyone else who has come in are about even.  But in crunch time he is money.  However, his kickoffs and off field antics leave something to be desired.  I think he is resigned until we can find a legitimate replacement.

 

FS Ryan Clark, Age 30.  He wants to sign, the Steelers reportedly want to sign him.  The question marks are his coverage (kind of important in the secondary) and how often can we afford to not have our starter playing (any time it is in Denver).  A three year deal for $7.25 million would be agreeable with me ($3 million bonus, salaries of $1.25 mil, $1.5 mil, $1.5 mil).

 

DE Nick Eason, Age 29 and Travis Kirschke, Age 35.  Depending on the coaches’ opinion of Ziggy and Sunny and the draft, one or neither will return.  If one does, I think Eason showed he could have an impact in spot play this season.  Kirshke will likely take his chronic back problems into retirement with 2 Super Bowl rings.  Not a bad career.

 

RB Willie Parker, Age 29.  Been beaten to death.  Wants to start, but will there be a market for an about to be 30 year old RB with three consistent years of injuries.  If he isn’t given a fair chance to start, could come back for a reasonable price.  Did well in at the end of the year spelling Mendy, and could do so very productively for a couple more years.  Would also be good spot starter if Mendy gets injured.

 

CB Deshea Townsend, Age 34 and QB Charlie Batch, Age 35.  Depends on their demands.  For veteran minimum both could be back.  Batch may end up retiring though.  Who knows, Townsend too.

 

S Tyrone Carter, Age 33.  Gone.  Thanks for the Denver game.

 

Restricted Free Agents – For those that don’t understand how RFA works, if a RFA is tendered, the team received compensation at the level of the tender if the RFA is signed by another team.  There are four different levels of the tag and the cost is different for each.  The same round tender provides the team with compensation in the same round as the RFA was drafted if lost to another team.  However, if the player is undrafted, there is no compensation for that level tender.  I am estimating the cost based on the increase between 2008 and 2009 (8.95%).  With that here are the RFA tender levels and costs for 2010:

 

                1st and 3rd round tender – $3.042 million

                              1st round tender – $2.395 million

                             2nd round tender – $1.683 million

                        Same round tender – $1.100 million

 

T Willie Colon, Age 26, 4th round pick.  Last year he was tendered a 1st round tender and will likely be tendered the same this year.  If another team picked him up, it would cost them their pick.  I think that will keep him on the Steelers.  If he is tendered a 2nd round tender, it likely means they hope he is picked up and they will replace him in the draft (or with someone already on the roster?).  Like I said, a 1st round tender will happen and he will be on the Steelers in 2010.

 

                P Daniel Sepulveda, Age 26, 4th round pick.  Many teams would be willing to pay for Sepulveda with a 4th round pick IMHO.  For that reason, I see a 2nd round tender for the hardest hitting punter in the NFL.

 

CB Willie Gay, Age 25, 5th round pick.  Once again, he is a good nickel back and should be relegated to those duties.  However, a 2rd round tender ensures us if we don’t keep him at least we can draft a replacement.

 

TE Matt Spaeth, Age 25, 3rd round pick.  This is the easiest choice.  Same round tender.  You may want to get rid of him, but why.  Heath Miller is the only TE that catches and maybe we will start using a FB and Spaeth’s blocking won’t matter either.  As a former 3rd round pick you have to hope he actually will be taken to replace him in the third with someone like Jimmy Graham (MIA), Ed Dickson (Oregon) or Anthony McCoy (USC).

 

C Darnell Stapleton, Age 24, UDFA.  Super Bowl starting RG, IR all season.  Have to at least 2rd round tender him.  There will be competent replacements available in the 2nd if he is signed elsewhere, possibly even Maurkice Pouncey of Florida.

 

RB Carey Davis, Age 2, UDFA.  This is a judgment call.  ST Coverage improved with his return, but he was cut to start the season.  A 2nd round tender is $1.683 million, not worth that much.  Maybe a veteran minimum deal again. 

 

THE DRAFT – For those that don’t know me, this is my favorite time of year.  I think everything that goes behind the building of a SB caliber team is awesome.  In this draft I will make only two stretches.  There will be no trades, I will only base it off the general consensus amongst the draftniks as to who will be available where.  None of the above mentioned scenarios is involved either (no losing Hampton or any of the RFA).  The assumptions are a 4th and a 6th round compensatory pick will be awarded for last year’s losses (for McFadden and Washington/Leftwich/Smith).  They might both be a stretch, but I am trying to base it off a cryptic formula that apparently no one knows.

 

1st Round – Bryan Buluga, OT, Iowa 6’6” 315 lbs, 4.95 40 yards

 

I think the Steelers will rank who they want something like this: Eric Berry, Russell Okung, Joe Haden, Bruce Campbell, Anthony Davis, Bryan Buluga, Earl Thomas, Rolando McClain, Mike Iuputi, Trent Williams, Dan Williams.  I also think they would trade up anyone between Berry and Campbell fell to 12, would stay put for Davis to McClain, and trade back a couple spots for Iuputi or the Williamses.  However no trades allowed, I will assume on the table at 18 are Buluga and the last three so it is Buluga.  Give Kugler a stud to start repairing our defunct OL.

 

2nd round – Koa Misi, OLB, Utah 6’3” 244 lbs, 4.71 40 yards

 

I said this after my first mock draft in December, other than Timmons, we don’t have anyone good to backup our OLB if Woodley or Harrison are hurt.  Koa Misi is raw but his athleticism reminds me of a young Joey Porter.  The only two guys I would take over this pick (outside of the 1st round guys I already said) are Sean Witherspoon, ILB MIZZOU and Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan in that order.  Witherspoon is a better 3-4 ILB than McClain in my opinion.  He is also super pumped, Ray Lewis-like, something our defense could have used this year.  Say what you want about Ray-Ray, but if he was drafted by the Steelers first, he would be in the annals with Hamm and Lambert.  Graham is Woodley’s clone and could take over for Harrison in a couple years and continue the tormenting of QB league wide.

 

3rd Round – Jeromy Miles, FS, UMASS 6’2” 215 lbs, 4.49 40 yards

 

This kid isn’t from a pedigree school but he is lights out.  Physical like Clark, but smooth hips and aggressive hand jam allows him to play man-to-man or zone.  Very good run/pass recognition and is a sure tackler in the open field and near the LOS.  Not a big interception guy in college, but has the potential to be a 4-5 pick guy and won’t be a liability when left on an island as he has outstanding instincts when the ball is in the air.  Could start as a rookie. 

 

4th Round A – Jamar Chaney, ILB, Mississippi State 6’0” 241 lbs, 4.61 40 yards

 

We need to find a replacement for Farrior sooner rather than later. Chaney found he can be a thumper and showed at the Senior Bowl he can be a game changer, gathering 8 tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery and Defensive MVP Honors.  I said last year we should grab Jasper Brinkley, who ended up starting for the Vikings.  Chaney is Brinkley without being a liability in coverage, which is where we had issues with Farrior this year.  Donald Butler of Washington is another option.  Oh and by the way, the exact height weight and estimated 40 as Sean Witherspoon.

 

4th Round B – Kam Chancellor, SS/FS, VA Tech, 6’3” 232 lbs, 4.59 40 yards

 

Played nickel back as a freshman and sophomore, SS as a junior and FS this year.  During the East-West Shriner’s practices was lighting people up.  Not quite a fluid as his experience may lend you to believe, but a gamer.  Given a year or two he could end up a Chris Hope type of safety, capable of starting either FS or SS.  This is important with Troy’s playing style and age and our utter lack of depth at safety.  There is a reason I have two being drafted instead of 1 and 1 CB. 

 

5th Round – Akwasi Owuso-Ansah – CB/KR/PR, IUP), 6’1”/205 lbs, .  4.4 40 yards

 

Owuso-Ansah, or Scrabble as I like to call him, Small School Prospect who some of you might have more info on than I do.  4.4 forty, with great hands, the anti-Ike.  He had 8 picks and 10 PD as a junior so they stopped throwing his way this season and ended with 2 and 6 this season.  In the last two years he has 3 KR TD, 3 PR TD, 1 INT TD, 1 FR TD.  Might be a little reach this high, but with a good showing in post season all-star play and a good combine and he might not even last this long.  The one question mark is run support, as he only had 32 tackles in the last two years.  Not quite a 7/15 guy (if you read my Some things can’t be taught article from December 9, 2009), but 8/10 and opponents avoiding him like the plague this season, he could be something special.  If we lose Willie Gay, I would take him as early as the early 3rd right now, 2nd depending on the combine numbers.   Goodbye Willie Gay, hello AOA. 

 

6th Round A – Ted Larson, C, NC State 6’2.5” 302 lbs, 5.25 40 yards

 

A converted DT, still relatively raw, but can mirror DT in pass protection and has decent speed to get to the next level or trap/pull block.  I am a huge fan of OL with DL experience as they tend to play nastier.  Larson is no different, always trying to knock his guy out, not just move him.  That is what you want from an interior lineman.  Centers J.D. Walton of Baylor or Erik Cook of New Mexico are other options if available.

 

6th Round B - John Fletcher – DE, Wyoming, 6’7”/272 lbs, 4.87 40 yards

 

He would have a couple of years behind Smith, Keisel and Hood to pack on 10-20 lbs but at 6’7” could easily carry the extra weight.  4.85 forty.  The next Keisel wedge-buster.  Here is what is really stands out look at the last three years and tell me this isn’t a great late round grab if he is still available:

 

2009 – 46 tkl, 12.5 TFL, 7 sacks, 5 PD, 2 FF, 1 FR, 3 BK

2008 – 54 tkl, 6.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 1 PD, 1 FF, 0 FR, 0 BK

2007 – 60 tkl, 14 TFL, 10.5 sacks, 1 PD, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 BK

2006 – 9 tkl, 3 TFL, 2 sacks

 

Total – 169 tkl, 36 TFL, 22 sacks, 7 PD, 4 FF, 2 FR, 4 BK

 

That, my friends, is production!!!!!!

 

7th Round - Travis Ivey – NT/DE, Maryland, 6’4” 325 lbs, 5.23 40 yards

 

I really like this kid.  Not huge numbers and played for Maryland, but has the size and drive to succeed.  Taller than Hampton, and almost looks sleek at 325 lbs and from the game I watched had a motor.  Big and strong, able to hold at the point of attack and at 6’4” could get his hands up in the passing lanes to delay passes for the pass rush.  Here is what I like most, he seems level headed and willing to work his butt off (unlike former Maryland DT Dre Moore who Tampa Bay cut for being lazy).  After giving Coach Mitchell Ziggy Hood and Sunny Harris this year, Owens, Fletcher and Ivey further add youth to our D-Line.  I will be watching for him this week for Texas vs the Nation.  Other option is Jeff Owens, NT Georgia 6’1” 307 lbs, 4.98 40 yards.  He plays bigger than size.  He has a thick lower body necessary for NT play. He could add 20-25 pounds on Professional Weight Program.  He played very well during Senior Bowl Week.  He is only this low because he had a knee injury that kept him out for 2008.  He is another possible NT replacement for Casey after 2-3 years.

 

For UDFA I like Danny Carmichael, ILB Middle Tenn State.  6’0”, 242 lbs.  85 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 6 FF, 6.5 sacks.  Finally, FB Andrew Hawken, 6’2” 248 lbs with decent hands.  A true FB from Michigan State. 

 

So here you have it, my full draft:

 

1st Round – Bryan Buluga, OT, Iowa 6’6” 315 lbs, 4.95 40 yards

2nd round – Koa Misi, OLB, Utah 6’3” 244 lbs, 4.71 40 yards

3rd Round – Jeromy Miles, FS, UMASS 6’2” 215 lbs, 4.49 40 yards

4th Round A – Jamar Chaney, ILB, Mississippi State 6’0” 241 lbs, 4.61 40 yards

4th Round B – Kam Chancellor, SS/FS, VA Tech, 6’3” 232 lbs, 4.59 40 yards

5th Round – Akwasi Owuso-Ansah – CB/KR/PR, IUP), 6’1”/205 lbs, .  4.4 40 yards

6th Round A – Ted Larson, C, NC State 6’2.5” 302 lbs, 5.25 40 yards

7th Round - Travis Ivey – NT/DE, Maryland, 6’4” 325 lbs, 5.23 40 yards

 

UDFA

Danny Carmichael, ILB MTSU  6’0”, 242 lbs, 4.8 40 yards

 Andrew Hawken, FB MSU 6’2” 248 lbs, 4.75 40 yards

 

Oh yeah, if we don’t pick 2 safeties, I am all for Brian Lainhart, FS Kent State next year, see my last draft post.

 

Sorry this is so long, let the discussions begin.

 

For previous Views from the SteelCage

http://www.sbnation.com/users/SteelCage/blog

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