The owners’ meeting is over. A few rule changes have been made. The free agency market moves have slowed to a crawl. What is next for the Steelers? Well, presumably the focus will be on the NFL draft. It’s a ho-hum draft class and any draft picks the Steelers make will likely be to plug a few holes here and there. However, draft picks are such a shot in the dark. You can have a highly rated college position player who just never adjusts to the NFL and the pick is a complete bust. I know there are batteries of mental tests and team staff’s try to get a feel for the player’s personality. Yet, there is no guarantee. Beyond the draft, the Steelers have some issues to sort out that the draft is not going to fix right away.
One thing that was significant from the owners meeting is the helmet crown rule. I have to agree that there needed to be something done with the rules that penalized the defensive player when it was obvious that the offensive player caused the collision. It’s a dangerous thing to do, to lead with your head into a person running at you. Hines Ward had a point a few months back when he said that all the improvements in the helmets made some players think they could handle the contact on their heads. No helmet in the world is going to stop the brain movement or the neck trauma when the head takes a hit. However, I agree with the comments that Tomlin had about how difficult this is going to be to officiate. Since these penalty calls cannot be reviewed during the game, they could tip the balance of a game with no way to fix it before the final score. I don’t know the answer to this problem, but I think we are going to see a lot of people upset about this rule during the season. Having said that, people are not going to stop doing it until it is a rule that can affect the game. It comes down to training and changing the instinctual moves that some players have developed. I think the Steelers haven’t had a problem on the offensive side with offensive players leading with the crown of the helmet, but I’m sure that it will be a focus during camps to make sure no players are doing it.
As the draft frenzy begins to build, the team will focus on the holes that were not filled by free agency as well as the positions where they will need to bring in younger players to train behind the more experienced players. For the Steelers, that just screams defense. There are always going to be holes on the offensive line and I hope the Steelers are looking at how to structure the team and the practice squad with replacements for the o-line. Even if the Steelers continue to focus on getting the ball out of Roethlisberger’s hands quicker, the pressure on the offensive line is fierce. Regardless of the Steelers’ focus during the draft, there will only be a sprinkling of potentially good players for either side. The Steelers have a lot of things to look at between now and the beginning of pre-season.