Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Steelers Draft Preview: Defensive Line

We continue our preview of the Steelers draft situation today with a look at the defensive line. 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!

Nose Tackle
Current Players:
Casey Hampton
Chris Hoke
Scott Paxson
Steve McLendon

The Steelers re-signed Casey Hampton to a 3-year deal this offseason, preserving the immovable piece at the center of their defense. That being said, Hampton is getting up there in years and the Steelers may look to add someone in the middle rounds of this draft - perhaps Linval Joseph (East Carolina) to groom as a future replacement. There are players in this draft that could fill the role of 3-4 NT beautifully. Namely, Dan Williams (Tennessee) and Terrence Cody (Alabama). Williams would likely require us trading up and Cody will probably go late in the first or early in the second round. Our opinion is that the Steelers are better off looking at someone they could plug in right away as a starter (Iupati, Pouncey, Wilson, Thomas) in the first round, rather than going after someone who probably wouldn't crack the lineup for two years.

Potential Draft Picks:
Terrence Cody (Alabama) - 1st (Trade down)/2nd (Trade up)
Linval Joseph (East Carolina) - 2nd (Trade down)/3rd
Jay Ross (East Carolina) - 3rd
Cam Thomas (North Carolina) - 3rd/4th

Defensive End
Current Players:
Aaron Smith
Brett Keisel
Evander "Ziggy" Hood
Nick Eason
Ra'Shon Harris

The Steelers went to the well twice for a 3-4 DE last year in the draft, selecting Ziggy Hood and Ra'Shon Harris. Harris did not make the team after camp last year, and spent much of the year with the Carolina Panthers before being re-claimed off their practice squad by the Steelers after Aaron Smith went down. Ziggy stepped in and showed some flashes of brilliance last year, including an all-around great game against Miami in Week 17. Ziggy should become the #1 back-up this year and see plenty of time in the D-line rotation. We would like to see him get more time on passing downs, as his upfield motor makes him a great pass rusher. Beyond the two DTs at the top of the draft (Suh & McCoy) who could both play end in a 3-4 if needed, there are two players who seem to be built to play the 5-technique (3-4 DE): Jared Odrick (Penn State) and Tyson Alualu (California). Both players have great quickness and burst, along with the size and power to be factors in the run game. If you watched Penn State last year, you know how much Odrick just tore up opposing O-lines. The Steelers could use some depth here, with Smith, Keisel, and Eason all being on the wrong side of 30, but we think they have more pressing needs at positions on the O-line and in the secondary to take a DE in the first round again this year. Chances are, they'll look at guys like Arthur Jones (Syracuse), Mike Neal (Purdue), or Clifton Geathers (South Carolina) in mid-to-late rounds of the draft.

Potential Draft Picks:
Jared Odrick (Penn State) - 1st
Tyson Alualu (California) - 2nd-Early 3rd
Arthur Jones (Syracuse) - Late 3rd-4th
Mike Neal (Purdue) - 4th-5th
Clifton Geathers (South Carolina) - 6th-7th

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