Dec 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel (99) pumps the crowd up against the Cleveland Browns in the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 20-7. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Based On Other Draft Needs Pittsburgh Steelers Brett Keisel Should Return

The Steelers have lots of needs on defense to fill.  Unfortunately, they have quite a few key holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball as well, and there aren’t just enough quality picks to fill them all.

I’d be a fool to think that I can accurately predict who and what positions the Steelers will choose and when.  But, I can make a pretty educated guess that the team will be seeking out a corner, wide receiver, and either another corner or nose tackle within the first three rounds to four rounds of the draft.  That’s 117 players selected before the Steelers might consider a defensive end – another need for the defense due to the aging and unsigned Brett Keisel.

How many defensive ends go in rounds 1-3 are unknown, but guys like Jadeveon Clowney and Stephon Tuitt are going early.  The defensive end class isn’t extremely deep talent wise despite there being 61 draft eligible ends this year.  Two potential players that might still be available to the Steelers by the third or fourth round could be North Carolina’s Kareem Martin and Missouri’s Kony Ealy.  Both possess the size that is equivalent to Keisel  (Martin is 6’6″ and 272lbs, Ealy is 6’4″ and 273 lbs, Keisel is 6’5″ and 257 lbs) and both have similar skill sets.  They both have their weaknesses however, but it’s nothing that some coaching and reps at the NFL level couldn’t help improve.  Martin has really long arms but doesn’t have the knack for knocking down passes or gaining a good edge around the tackles, Ealy is a very good pass rusher and explodes off the ball but tends to come up high off the snap making himself vulnerable for cut blocks.

Those things considered, if the Steelers could nab one of those two gentlemen or even someone like Aaron Lynch out of South Florida, they would be in a very good spot for working with a developmental defensive end.  Developmental does not equal starter when you’re a Pittsburgh Steeler, which means the defense will need someone effective and ready to start.  Enter Brett Keisel.

The Beard is still waiting in the wings, but I believe his time will come after the draft to be signed for one final season with the Steelers.  They just aren’t in a place to draft a defensive end early and will need someone like Keisel’s veteran and energetic presence to get the job done.  Don’t expect to see anything more than three sacks in a season from the big man – he averages three a year anyways.  But, I think he will still have an effective presence and will help groom whatever rookie the Steelers pick up in this year’s draft.

Tomlin has stated that the team has not ruled out bringing Keisel back.  Speaking about the defensive end position, “Obviously it’s incomplete.  We’ve lost more than we’ve added. We’ll rectify that.”  Obviously.

The Beard will be back – he’ll be part of that equation.  And he shall still be feared.


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  • datdudedre’

    I would love to see The Beard return to Pittsburgh. However, it should not be at the expense of drafting an end by at least round 4. I have said on this post (and many others) that I don’t believe the Steelers should take a receiver in the 1st round. Markus Wheaton deserves the chance to pass or fail, and Lance Moore is as solid a veteran insurance policy as we could find. I seem to be totally outnumbered, as several pundits have us taking either Mike Evans or Odell Beckham at 15. If I was running this draft, we wouldn’t touch a receiver until round 3. You guessed that we could take 2 corners in the early rounds, and I am with you on that. We are completely void of talent at that position, and could use the infusion. Corner is clearly number one, but DE is being overlooked as a position of need. Losing Ziggy Hood, Al Woods and Keisel should be considered just as devastating as losing Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery, because at least we still have an impact player at receiver. We currently don’t have a starter at right end for crying out loud! I would like us to address NT or DE by round 4. Sure, we could find guys later to address these positions, but we need quality players, not just bodies to rotate (which is what we currently have). I still believe McLendon would make a better end than nose, just like I believe Cam Thomas should stay at nose versus us trying to turn him into an end. Keisel’s experience and leadership would be valuable. He should be re-signed for only a year, which means his replacement needs to be taken this weekend.