Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Outlook for Pittsburgh Steelers

Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

 

If you haven’t yet, take some time and read the offensive outlook for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now on to the defense. The defense isn’t as sturdy as the offense is. Although most of the free agents signed by the Steelers were defensive players, there are still some serious depth issues. There are even some positions that don’t have a starter going into the offseason.

Defensive Line

As of right now, we know two players that are locks to make the roster next season, Cameron Heyward and Steve McLendon. However, we don’t even know where McLendon will be playing. The Steelers recently signed DT Cam Thomas, and many assume that this move was made for Thomas to start at NT and McLendon to move to DE. This, I don’t think, is the case. Thomas wasn’t paid like a starter, getting a moderate 2 year deal. He is simply replacing Al Woods. The Steelers have no experienced backup at the NT position, and Thomas was brought in for experienced depth. For everyone that has had the Steelers taking a NT in the first round, this should tell you all you need to know, the Steelers will not be drafting a defensive lineman in the first round. I have been called crazy, stupid, ridiculous for saying defensive line would absolutely not go in the first round, and now I am reaping the benefits of being right pertaining to the Steelers…again.

To the defensive end spot, Alex Carrington is still a free agent, and it’s looking like his price goes down by the day, as he has visited several teams and may realize no one is going to give him the money he wants. The Steelers should be an attractive option for Carrington, as he will almost be guaranteed a starting job on Dick Lebeau’s defense at left defensive end, and John Mitchell as his defensive line coach. If Carrington is not brought in, defensive end just rose to the top of the list going into the draft. However, I don’t see this happening, because a rookie won’t start on the defensive line in year one, and the Steelers always have Brett Keisel to go to. Either way, expect a defensive end signed sometime soon. Almost guaranteed.

Linebackers

The linebackers group, believe it or not, has plenty of youth going into the season. Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds are the obvious starter at outside linebacker. We already saw what Worilds brings to the table, and am excited to see what a full offseaon does for Jarvis Jones, especially know he is the starter, does for his development. I truly believe we will see Jones put up impressive numbers, and he will start to show us why the Steelers spent a first round pick on him. As far as depth goes, they have Chris Carter and Terrence Garvin who can play on the outside. Carter is nothing to be excited about, but Garvin should make some strides from his rookie season. A mid to late round draft pick could be spent on an outside linebacker, but for depth reasons only.

To the inside, Lawrence Timmons will head into his first season without his draft mate, Lamarr Woodley. We do know that he will be starting, obviously. Beside him, I think it’s safe to say Vince Williams will enter the offseason as the starter, and it will be his job to lose. He showed upside last season, especially is his run defense. If he can develop into a 3 down player, there is definitely a spot for him on the team. Sean Spence and Kion Wilson are both young players who will more than likely be the backups. Same as the outside linebackers, a mid to late round draft pick could be spent for depth purposes only.

Secondary

The safety is as deep as it has ever been for the Steelers. Troy Polamalu and Mike Mitchell will start, with Shamarko Thomas, Will Allen and Robert Golden as the backups. Shamarko Thomas can almost be considered a starter, as he will get plenty of time in the nickel and dime packages. He is also the starter in waiting for Polamalu. There should be no more moves pertaining to the safety position.

Cornerback is a different story. Only 3 cornerbacks on the roster have experience. Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen should start, with William Gay as the only real depth for the Steelers. This is a position of serious need, and an early draft pick should be spent on a cornerback, preferably the first. Not only should they take one in the first round, but they could take a cornerback later in the draft as well. Don’t expect a move in free agency, but when draft time comes around, watch on the first day to see what the Steelers do.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft NFL NFL Free Agency 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers

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