It's a slow week because of the bye, so I was thinking about the 2012 draft. I don't really start looking at prospects until the off season, so for this exercise, let's say you do not have to throw in player names if you do not know them. Just give me an ideal 7 round draft of positional locations you'd like the Steelers to go. Here is mine:
1st Round - G/OT
I have my eye on a specific guy for this spot, who is projected as a late 1st rounder that I really like. I said no names, so I will skip that part. The fact is, Kemoeatu is not a good pass blocker and this team is now a pass offense. That's like trying to put a 4-3 DE in a 3-4 as a DE. It just doesn't work. Legursky is a fine player, but his lack of size leads him to get abused by big players like Ngata. We need a big, quick guy here who has position flexibility and can slide to OT in a pinch or possibly a long stint in the future.
2nd Round - S
Ryan Clark has been showing his age just as much as James Farrior this year. Behind him, we have Ryan Mundy, but I don't think Mundy has the tools to be a consistent starter. We need a guy in here who is a ball park and not ALWAYS going for the big hit like Clark. An interception is a lot more valuable than a broken up pass. It's also a lot more valuable than a H2H personal foul.
3rd Round - ILB
This was a toss up between ILB and OLB. I think ultimately, we have Harrison for another year or two and Woodley for a long time. Behind them, we have Worilds who will continue to develop. Also, I liked what I saw from Carter for a rookie. At ILB, we have Timmons and then two old dudes who have shown their age at times. Unfortunately, I am also beginning to think Sylvester is not a long term solution. We definitely need another face to compete for the future at ILB.
4th Round - DT
At the start of the season, NT was the position I perceived would be the #1 need for the Steelers. However, I think Steve McLendon has come along a lot better than they perceived. He is even earning a hat over Chris Hoke on game days. That's impressive for a 2nd year UDFA (well, maybe not since Hoke was a UDFA too). Nevertheless, I think McLendon can handle the position finely and the need for a future NT is not as big. They might have found a diamond in the rough here. Drafting a NT here could allow them to get another body to compete for the 3rd spot on the depth chart with Hoke.
5th Round - S
Troy is getting up there too, but I think he will have a longer career than Clark. That being said, Troy's backup, Will Allen, will be 30 next year. We shouldn't have an old guy backing up and old guy. I'd take another safety and let him compete for that spot behind Troy. I'd love for it to be a particular safety out of MD, if he doesn't get a injury red shirt.
6th Round - DE
My assumption is that Aaron Smith will not be back next year. We have our two bookend DEs of the future in Heyward and Ziggy. We also have Keisel who still has gas in the tank. And then? Al Woods. A journeyman. Let's see if we can get a project guy here, who has the physical skills, but doesn't have the technique down. Develop him for a few years and see if he can turn into something. I wouldn't be surprised if the Steelers somehow got their hands on Thad Gibson or Doug Worthington though.
7th Round - OL
Another project player who probably won't develop into anything.
Projected off season moves:
- Resign William Gay to a 2 year deal.
- Resign Mike Wallace to a sizeable deal.
- Byron Leftwich is resigned to a year deal.
- Something is done with the OT "overload". Max Starks has to be resigned. But then you have two players who could start at RT. I would say cut Colon, but I think that would make a lot of dead money. Do we move Gilbert to G? That would rearrange my whole draft.
- Hines Ward retires after winning his 3rd SB.