As we have heard the pundits talking for the last few years, our defense keeps getting older, so what will the Steelers look like in 2013?
A. Smith - Z. Hood
C. Hampton -S. McClendon?
B. Keisel - C. Heyward
J. Harrison - J. Worilds? (will Harrison be around in 2013?)
L. Woodley - L. Woodley
L. Timmons - L. Timmons
J. Farrior - S. Sylvester
I. Taylor - I. Taylor
B. McFadden - K. Lewis?
T. Polamalu - T. Polamalu
R. Clark - R. Mundy? (ditto, Clark)
On some levels, it doesn't seem that bad. I think Hood and Heyward will be fine replacements. Woodley and Timmons will be great for years to come. Sylvester should be ready to step in for Farrior, he's got a nose for the ball.
However, there is no replacement for Hampton. McClendon is basically a DE who is an extra body at NT.
I don't know if Worilds is going to be the player to fill Harrison's shoes. Maybe Harrison will still be around to wreak havoc? Possibly?
They still have no answer for cornerbacks and Ike can't play at this level forever.
I don't know if Clark will be around in 2013, or if Mundy will be a good replacement.
Will Troy still be the force we've known in 2013? If yesterday is any indication of how he will play this year, they should have never re-signed him. If he can give us at least 25 good games in the next two years, it will be money well spent. However, they still need to be looking for the next FS.
I sense a purge of veterans next year, because I've read the Steelers are projected to be about 20 million over the cap. I think players like J. Farrior, A. Smith, C. Hampton, and R. Clark might be gone. I don't know what their cap numbers are, but my guess if it's in the 5 million range, the future might be coming sooner than we think.
A total revamping of the DBs are in order. First, they will have to evaluate whether any of the players they have drafted over the last 3 years are going to be ready to start in Lebeau's system. There are 3 players (C. Brown, C. Allen, and K. Lewis) that need to step up and be ready. Unfortunately, the jury is still out on these 3 players, and they have wasted picks on Joe Burnett and Crezdon Butler. Until they draft a DB before round 3, I don't think they are going to find the quality they need.Yes, I know C. Brown was drafted in the 3rd round, but he was only 2 picks before being a 4th rounder.
With needs at NT, OLB, CB, S, OT, and OG there seems to be a lot of holes to fill. Obviously, they will not be able to fix everything through the draft and with the cap situation, it may be difficult to bring any significant free agents into the mix.
I'm sure the Steelers will follow their tried and true method of BPA in the draft, but I'm not sure which need is the biggest to fill. Will any of the CB's be quality starters? Do they take a DB in round 1? What is more important having a run-stuffing NT or getting Ben protection?
As far as free agents go, the Steelers will bring in the best under-the-radar guys without making a splash in free agency. They will bring in guys that are team-first and don't want the big money. Sometimes, signing free agents has paid off...Farrior, Clark, Moore, Adams, Leftwich. Sometimes it has not....Hartwig, Mahan, Galloway.
I know that there will be a drop-off in the play of the defense in the next year or so. Heck, we might even see it this year. It will not last long, because there is still a core of young guys that are ready to come into the fold. However, the future will need to be addressed immediately after the end of the season.