2009 Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Preview

With the 2009 NFL Draft fast approaching, it’s time to take a look at what your Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers might be up to come Saturday evening.  I am by no means a draftnik and the only thing I have in common with Mel Kiper is a damn fine head of hair but I will try to provide a little guidance as to what players to keep an eye on.

TEAM NEEDS:

Offensive Line:  Steeler fans are all too familiar with the sight of QB Ben Roethlisberger dropping back to throw, surveying the field, then promptly running for his life.   He is the Franchise and the Franchise has been sacked 80+ times the past two seasons combined.  Every time he hits the turf, you’re playing Russian Roulette with your season.  Getting a better grade of beef in front of him is an absolute must.  Especially with LT Max Starks, C Justin Hartwig, and RT Willie Colon all free agents after next season.

Names to look for here are Max Unger and Alex Mack, both centers who can also play guard, Jamon Meredith and William Beatty, athletic tackles who could start at RT but eventually move to LT, and Phil Loadholt, Eric Wood, Andy Levitre, and Penn State’s own A.Q. Shipley.   If the Steelers move up, it would likely be to take RT Eben Britton, considered a polished player who shouldn’t slip past the mid-20s.

Defensive Line:  Yes, the Steelers had the best defense in the NFL last season.  And yes, we’ll have the best defense this season as well.  And yes, we have an awesome defensive line with Pro Bowl NT Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, and underrated star Aaron Smith.  However, every single one of them is 30+ years old and their backups are even older.  Age has a funny way of creeping up on a team and they Steelers absolutely have to find ways to inject some youth on their line.  Not to mention, say it with me now, Keisel and Hampton are both free agents after next season.

Ron Brace, Evander “Ziggy” Hood, and youtube sensation Jarron Gilbert have all been mentioned as possibilities for the Steelers.  Lawrence Sidbury is a name to watch out for in later rounds.  Also keep in mind Tyson Jackson, a mammoth DL for LSU who seems to be one of those guys some mockers have listed highly while others have sliding down to the mid to late 20’s.  Would the Steelers try to move up for him?

Cornerback:  Again, it’s funny how we had an absolutely dominating defense yet two of the three biggest needs are on that side of the ball.  With the loss of CB Bryant McFadden during the off-season, that leaves obnoxious parade loudmouth William Gay to take his place.  I’ve liked what I’ve seen out of Loud Willie but you can never have enough DBs in the pass happy NFL.  Behind him is old man Deshea Townshend and untested Anthony Madison.  At the very least, we could use a solid third corner to play the nickel and step in if there are injuries to one of the starters.

Also, many of the best CBs in the draft also double as KR/PR so they would be able to contribute in that area immediately as the Steelers could definitely use an upgrade in the return game now that RB Gary Russell has been cut.

Darius Butler, Alphonso Smith, and DJ Moore are all names to keep in mind as first round picks.  Mike Mickens and Victor Harris could be later round selections, along with Safeties Louis Delmas and Patrick Chung (since Ryan Clark is entering the final year of his deal).

Those are the big three needs as far as I see them but I should add the Steelers will probably look to add a WR at some point considering there is basically nobody on the roster behind the big three of Santonio, Hines, and Sweed.  In fact, since the Steelers don’t believe in reaching to fill a need, Best Player Available will be how they go with their pick.  Other than QB and RB, I don’t imagine any position is completely off the table if a player they have ranked very highly somehow falls into their lap at #32.

Picking last, the Steelers are entirely at the mercy of other teams.  They can plan and scout and scheme all they’d like but at the end of the day, what they do is going to depend largely on who other teams take and what that keeps on the board when our turn is called.  Regardless, it should be an interesting evening as the most successful franchise in NFL history takes a very important step into the future.

I’ll be watching the draft with some friends but I am going to be doing a running commentary on this site via Twitter.  It’ll be like a live blog except I’ll be Tweeting from my Iphone instead of home on my computer.  Please feel free to join me here starting at 4:30 or on my Tweet page.  Add me by clicking here NicePickCowher

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