2011 Mock Draft Primer: Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers got all the way to the Super Bowl, but a subpar game hurt their chances. They will be hoping to use this draft to shore up their weak areas to make a third run in five years under head coach Mike Tomlin.
Offensively, Steelers are a team that thrives on the shoulders of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, with his improvisational skills in the pocket and big arm. But the Steelers are known for their defense, and it returned to previous levels last year where they were at the top of the league.
But both ares of their roster could improve. Their offense needs to be shored up as their offensive line was atrocious last year as injuries and subpar play decimated them. On defense, they are starting to show their age, and at several key spots could do with more infusion of youth.
With that said, I think the Steelers will use their first round pick on Texas cornerback Aaron Williams.
Offensively, the only real weakness of the Steelers is their offensive line. And while they struggled late in the season, everything was not all bad for the Steelers. Center Maurkice Pouncey had a solid rookie year and emerged as a key building block for the future. And the Steelers main issue was not lack of talent, but poor depth. Right tackle Flozell Adams was the only starter to start all 20 games, and he was essentially the backup right tackle due to a preseason injury to Willie Colon.
The other positive is that the Steelers got the opportunity to get long looks at players like Adams, Jonathan Scott, Ramon Foster, and Doug Legursky, meaning that their depth is a bit better. But getting back both tackles Max Starks and Colon healthy will be a huge boost.
The Steelers most immediate weakness is at right guard for this reason. They never really plugged in anyone there that looked strong. There has been talk of moving Colon there as many feel it’s his more natural position, but if they can simply upgrade this spot with a player, they will do so. The best option is probably Mike Pouncey, Maurkice’s twin brother. Mike played right guard beside Maurkice at Florida and it would be a relatively quick transition. The Steelers might also look at Danny Watkins and Ben Ijalana for that role, although they have played more on the left side in college making them less than ideal.
The other option could be trying to upgrade the left tackle position, which would allow Starks to move to right tackle, where he was a starter a few years ago, then Colon inside to guard. The best option likely to be available for them is Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi, and if he was available this likely would be a good course of action. If not him, then it remains to be seen if Derek Sherrod is a great fit in Pittsburgh, who prefer bigger, more physical run blockers like Carimi. If not Sherrod, then perhaps the Steelers would look at someone like TCU’s Marcus Cannon, who can play either tackle spot and potentially guard as well. His size and athleticism is reminiscent of someone like Starks.
Defensively, the Steelers are mostly in need of shoring up depth. Injuries to Aaron Smith mean they could go for another defensive end to groom for the future. Temple’s Muhammad Wilkerson would be tough to pass up if available this late, but more likely they will find someone like Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward available.
Linebacker isn’t a huge need, at least not one where it’s likely they would use their top pick on the position. But adding a young inside linebacker to potentially replace James Farrior like Martez Wilson might make sense. Safety could also use some depth behind Ryan Clark if they were to select UCLA’s Rahim Moore.
Cornerback is their primary problem area. They need to get better and younger there. Ike Taylor is near the end of the line, and their nickel corner William Gay is just so-so. Adding a young, big corner like Aaron Williams could really help them as he has similar tools as Taylor.
I think the Steelers will look at offensive linemen, but unless a player such as Carimi or Pouncey drop to this spot, I think they will wind up taking the best corner on the board, which in this case is Williams.