Steel Curtain Radio host Lance Williams had Lance Zierlein, Houston Chronicle writer and host of The Sideline Viewblog, on Steel Curtain Radio Tuesday. Zierlein, the son of former Steelers offensive line coach Larry Zierlein, is known as a top-shelf draft prognosticator, and the author of a recent two-part series titled "The Steelers Project."
In a very informative piece, Zierlein discusses how he broke the Steelers' past drafts down and compared it to the the candidate pool in the 2012 draft.
Williams asked Zierlein if the Steelers' draft focus, being as singular as it is, if it was an advantage in comparison to other teams, particular in the first round.
"I think it definitely helps. It creates a single focus...a standard operating procedure that is Steeler football," Zierlein said. I think, more importantly, they have an idea, especially on the defensive side of the ball, who are Steelers. They can get to know them and say, 'this guy is a Steeler.'"
That philosophy is the root of Zierlein's "Steeler Project." He noted making a few calls to league sources, looking to identify those "Steelers players."
"I think they want power, slash explosiveness, or speed from their linebackers. From nose tackle, they prefer two-gap nose tackles. They want a guy who can hold up at the point of attack. But with the way football is changing a little bit, with more and more teams throwing earlier in sets of downs, I think the Steelers could potentially stop looking for guys like Casey Hampton.
"I think the Steelers would prefer to look for a little more quickness."
As far as the defensive ends go, Zierlein had some specifics that may not be entirely surprising.
"They want their defensive ends to be around six-foot-four with long arms. They need to play against the run. If they can rush the passer, that's an added bonus, but they need to stop the run."
Zierlein noted the difficulty of predicting the Steelers' philosophy when it comes to the offensive line, which, sometimes, can feel like a "throw a dart at the board" strategy.
"The toughest position I had to deal with was the offensive line. I honestly don't have a great idea of what the Steelers are looking for."
He noted a text conversation with Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, who said they don't plan to change anything now with their strategy, considering the hiring of offensive coordinator Todd Haley. It may change down the line, however.
Zierlein gave his priorities when it comes to player evaluation. When asked to rank his factors for what the Steelers are looking for in a player, he said:
"Number 1 is productivity. They like guys who have been productive on the prior level. They aren't into one-year wonders. They want high football character, meaning a level of intelligence in the scheme of what the Steelers like to do...I'd also say athleticism... I wouldn't say the offensive line is all that athletic, but every other position on the field, the Steelers seem to have a value on athleticism, because with athleticism comes the ability to create some match-up problems that are difficult for the opposing team to handle."