Friday, April 16, 2010

Steelers Draft Preview: Backfield

We begin our Steelers draft preview series today with a look at the Steelers backfield. We'll be hosting a Cover It Live Blog with some other bloggers and fans on Thursday and Friday for the first three rounds of the draft. Feel free to stop by and share your thoughts with us! The great thing about CoverItLive Blogs is that you don't need an account to participate, you can make posts as a guest. We're looking forward to the draft and hope that you'll drop by and chat with us!

2009 Record: 9-7

Draft Picks: 18 (1-18), 52 (2-20), 82 (3-18), (4-18), (5-20), (5-24), (5-33), (5-35), (6-19), (7-18), (7-35)

The Steelers have 11 picks in this year's draft. Three of those picks are compensatory picks that can not be traded. Over the course of the next few days, we're going to try to give you a detailed look at positions the Steelers need to address in the draft, some prospective players to fill those positions, and what round we think the Steelers could draft them in. Today's preview looks at the Steelers backfield.

Current Players:
Ben Roethlisberger
Dennis Dixon
Charlie Batch

There is no position on the roster with a bigger question mark than starting quarterback right now. With Big Ben's off-field antics in Georgia bringing him under well-deserved scrutiny, we have no idea how long he will be suspended for. The league is going to suspend him, the question now is just for how long. Until the Steelers organization decides otherwise, Ben is still their franchise quarterback. Therefore, they don't need to be looking at taking a quarterback in the early rounds of the draft. However, adding another player late in the draft that could serve as a back-up while Ben is suspended might not be a bad idea. If the Rooneys should decide that Ben is no longer the guy they want behind center and as the face of the franchise, then they need to figure out what to do with him as soon as possible and decide how they want to move forward. For purposes of this post, we're going to go with the current information that we have: that Ben will still be with the team next year. If this changes, we will update the post.

Potential Draft Picks:
John Skelton (Fordham) - 5th Round
Jevan Snead (Mississippi) - 5th-6th Round
Mike Kafka (Northwestern) - 5th-6th Round
Rusty Smith (Florida Atlantic) - 7th Round

Running Back
Current Players:
Rashard Mendenhall
Mewelde Moore
Frank Summers
Stefan Logan
Isaac Redman
Justin Vincent

The Steelers have two holes that need to be addressed at running back. The first hole is the #2 Running Back, also known as the "Change of Pace" back. There are two types of backs that could fill this role. If the Steelers want to feature Mendenhall as the only back in the backfield, they could add a bulldozing back like LeGarrette Blount to fill the "Short Yardage Back" role at #2. This would give us a backfield that looks something like Carolina's. On the other hand, we could add a pure speed back to give us a backfield like Dallas has with Marion Barber and Felix Jones. The other position where we are lacking is a true fullback. We love John Conner from Kentucky for his potential as a lead blocker. We've been lacking at the position since Dan Kreider left. The Steelers say they want to run the ball more next year (which would be a great plan, particularly if Ben is going to be suspended for a significant period of time). However, they're not going to be able to do it out of a 2 or 3 TE set. Having a lead blocker to plow the road is invaluable, and the Steelers would do well to add a guy like Conner.

Potential Draft Picks:
Ben Tate (Auburn) - 2nd-3rd
Dexter McCluster (Mississippi) - 3rd
LeGarrette Blount (Oregon) - 5th
John Conner (Kentucky) - 5th