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Tag:Steelers
Posted on: April 14, 2011 12:41 pm
 

Pittsburgh Steelers draft preview

Pittsburgh Steelers

   2010 record: 12-4, first place AFC North

2011 draft rundown

   Seven total picks (round):

31(1)

63(2)

95(3)

128(4)

162(5)

196(6)

232(7) 

TOP NEEDS

   Cornerback: Ike Taylor, 30, is the only quality cornerback on the team and he's an unrestricted free agent. Even if he does return, they need another because it is their weakest position on an otherwise outstanding defense. The Steelers have not had a Pro-Bowl cornerback since Rod Woodson in 1996. Bryant McFadden was picked on often on the other side and William Gay lost his job as a starter in 2009 and holds down No. 3 spot.

   Offensive line: Pittsburgh will welcome back their two starting tackles they lost last season, Max Starks and Willie Colon. And Flozell Adams also will return. But they need a tackle, either on the right or the left, to prep for the 2012 season at the very least. Starks had neck surgery, Colon's Achilles was torn and Adams will be 36.

   Defensive line: Even though they added DE Ziggy Hood on the first round in 2009, the Steelers need to keep stocking their line. End Brett Keisel will be 33 at the start of the season, end Aaron Smith is 35 and NT Casey Hampton turns 34 with backup NT Chris Hoke 35.

   Wide receiver: Not really a need because they have Hines Ward, Mike Wallace and two promising rookies from last season in Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. But another first-class wide receiver would always be welcome and they would find room for him.

First round focus

   31st overall

   --Coach Mike Tomlin put it simply last week -- You win with big people. The Steelers draft value over need, but there should be an intersection of the two at the bottom of the first round, when a solid offensive tackle or top interior blocker, multiple five-technique defensive ends, a nose tackle or two and a bevy of cornerback options should be on the board. Temple Muhammad Wilkerson, Baylor's Phil Taylor -- both nose tackles with agility -- and Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward all fit and fill needs in the Steelers' defensive line. They could also have a shot at "value" picks dropped on some boards such as bump-and-run CB Jimmy Smith (Colorado; character), CB-FS Aaron Williams (Texas), OLB Akeem Ayers (UCLA), OLB Jabaal Sheard (Pitt) and OT Danny Watkins (Baylor; age). 

Ten names on the Steelers' board

   OT Nate Solder, Colorado

   OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State

   OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin

   OL Danny Watkins, Baylor

   ILB Martez Wilson, Illinois

   CB Davon House, New Mexico State

   CB Brandon Harris, Miami (Fla.)

   DT Phil Taylor, Baylor

   DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State

   TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame

--Jeff Reynolds, NFLDraftScout.com Senior Editor

Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Steelers
 
Posted on: March 24, 2011 12:41 pm
 

Don't sleep on First Rd DTs after Dareus, Fairley

Many in the media have lauded this year's defensive end class as one of the best in recent years.

While that may be true, I'd argue that the defensive tackle group is not only more talented at the top, it is deeper as well.

Like last year, when attention on the defensive tackles centered around the top two players Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, this crop of run-stuffers is largely described elsewhere as Marcell Dareus, Nick Fairley and a bunch of other guys.

Those other guys may not wind up as top ten picks like Dareus and Fairley, but draft fans may wind up surprised by how high the next three defensive tackles could go.

I've spoken to representatives of teams operating out of the 4-3 and 3-4 that see the next three defensive tackles -- Illinois' Corey Liuget , Baylor's Phil Taylo r and Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson -- as all potential Top 20 picks.

To put that in perspective, the last time there were five defensive tackles drafted within the Top 20 was ten years. Teams can only hope this year's crop winds up as good as 2001, when Richard Seymour (No. 6, Marcus Stroud (No. 13) and Casey Hampton (No. 19) began their standout careers. Unfortunately, the first defensive tackle in 2001 -- Gerard Warren -- was the most disappointing of the group, especially considering his high draft selection. Damione Lewis (No. 12) never panned out for the Rams, either.

I've written before about the raving reviews I've heard of Liuget . As a classic penetrating three-technique defensive tackle, he could hear his name called as early as No. 14 to the St. Louis Rams. I'd be surprised to see him get past the trio of Philadelphia, New Orleans and Seattle with picks No. 23-25.

Unlike Liuget, who could play in the 3-4, but projects best inside in a four-man front, Taylor is more scheme versatile. He's the unquestioned top nose guard prospect in this draft at 6-4, 337 pounds, but has the rare athleticism at that size to also split gaps and remain at defensive tackle. Most teams operating out of the 3-4 alignment will tell you that the toughest part of fielding a 3-4 defense is finding a nose guard. That fact could boost Taylor's stock much higher than most believe. The Washington Redskins at No. 10 and Houston Texans at No. 11 could be intrigued by Taylor's ability to immediately improve their interior run defense. I'd be surprised to see Taylor fall out of the first round with the Jets at No. 30 in need of reinforcements behind oft-injured NG Kris Jenkins.

Like Taylor, Wilkerson is scheme-versatile. He's also position-versatile, having starred at defensive tackle at Temple and having the long frame (6-5, 305) and strength (27 reps) to handle the conversion outside as a five-technique defensive end. Wilkerson had the widest wingspan (85 1/4") of all the defensive tackles measured at the Combine and second among all defensive linemen (Oklahoma State DE Ugo Chinasa measured 86 1/8").

That position and scheme versatility, coupled with his impressive production at Temple (70 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks) could see Wilkerson drafted as high as the Patriots' No. 17 overall pick. The fact that Wilkerson's production came against questionable competition in the MAC could be enough to push him into the mid or late 20s, but I'd be surprised if the Steelers or Packers with the final two picks of the first round, respectively, didn't pounce on his upside should he fall into their laps, respectively.


Posted on: March 15, 2011 6:29 pm
 

Pouncey "a star," Black slow at Florida Pro Day

All 32 NFL teams were on hand to see Mike Pouncey and the rest of the Florida Gators go through their Pro Day today in Gainesville.

Pouncey was the unquestioned center attraction at the event, as numerous offensive line coaches attended the event, as well as general managers (Jacksonville's Gene Smith) and head coaches (New England's Bill Belichick). The Jaguars' Andy Heck, Bears' Mike Tice, and Steelers' Sean Kugler were among the offensive line coaches in attendance.

Pouncey did not do any of the timed drills after a strong performance at the Scouting Combine, but did do 24 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press.

He also performed very well in positional drills, according to a scout on hand for the workout. The scout characterized Pouncey as "a star" and said, "He is everything you're looking for in an interior lineman. He's a carbon copy of his brother."

Mike's brother, of course, is the Steelers' Maurkice Pouncey, who earned a spot on the Pro Bowl team with a standout rookie season at center for the AFC Champions.

Pouncey, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated interior lineman , is currently projected to be the No. 22 pick in the 2011 draft by the Indianapolis Colts in my recent mock draft. My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter has him going 25th overall to the Seattle Seahawks .

This is a relatively down year of prospects for the Gators, with only two other Florida prospects being viewed as potential middle round prospects.

Another lineman, Marcus Gilbert, could make the third round. The 6-6, 330 pounder helped his cause, according to the scout with a solid performance today. A left tackle for the Gators, he projects best on the right side in the NFL.

Perhaps the player with the most on the line in today's workout was safety Ahmad Black. The diminutive Black (5-09, 184) needed a strong workout today to erase the concerns that were raised at the Combine due to disappointing times in the 40-yard dash. Black registered between 4.70-4.82 at Indianapolis and wasn't much faster in Gainesville today, unfortunately.

Scouts love his instincts and penchant for the game-changing play, but in posting another pair of 4.7s in the forty (my source had him at 4.74, 4.76), he could slip to the last two rounds of the draft.

"The kid plays fast, there's no question. But at that size and speed, it is going to be tough to convince a DB coach to get on board during [draft] meetings," the source said about Black.
Posted on: January 2, 2011 10:06 pm
 

Five most impressive prospects from New Years Day

Taking the extra 24 hours to review all six of the New Years' Day bowl games, I've come up with a list of the five draft-eligible players who I felt enjoyed the strongest performances.

In New Years' fashion, I'm putting them in reverse order, starting with the No. 5 performance and finishing with the player I thought was No. 1 on the day of ones (1-1-11).

5. OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State : Those that followed me on Twitter yesterday (I had 55 posts) they know that I'm quite high on the Bulldogs' left tackle. Sherrod doesn't have elite quickness off the edge, but rarely allowed pressure from Michigan pass rushers during the Gator Bowl. Sherrod's ability to pop the defensive end and switch off to blitzing linebackers (essentially blocking two men) gave quarterback Chris Relf plenty of time to attack the Wolverines' vulnerable secondary. For Relf, who completed only 55.5% of his passes and threw only 10 touchdowns during his 12 regular season starts, it was his most impressive performance of the year (completed 78.3% of his passes for 281 yards, 3 TDs and an INT). In fact, Relf's 18 of 23 passing was the most efficient of any New Years' Day quarterback, helping him earn MVP honors. The credit should go just as much to Sherrod as Relf.
 
4. RB Jordan Todman, Connecticut: The Oklahoma Sooners knew heading into the Fiesta Bowl that if they could contain Todman, the No. 2 rusher in the FBS (behind Oregon's LaMichael James), they'd almost surely be victorious. The Sooners won easily, but like nearly every other opponent this season, they couldn't stop Todman from rushing for over 100 yards. It was Todman's agility, burst and determined running, in fact, that served as the Huskies' only offensive spark in the 48-20 loss. I remain concerned about the 5-09, 195 pound Todman's ability to hold up long term in the NFL, but the Huskies apparenty aren't. Todman rushed 32 times for his 121 times against the Sooners -- the fifth time in final six games of his Connecticut career in which he had at least 30 attempts.

3. C Mike Pouncey, Florida: It hasn't always been easy this year for Pouncey, who, of course, took over at center for his twin brother, Maurkice - Pittsburgh's first round pick last April. Mike more than held his own yesterday against Penn State, however, clearing the way for interior running lanes, providing stellar pass protection up the middle and -- perhaps most impressively -- showcasing the nimble feet to pull and hit moving defenders downfield. Pouncey's size and agility make him a better fit at guard in the pros, but in a showdown of two of the best senior interior lineman in college football yesterday, Pouncey was more consistently impressive than Penn State's Stefen Wisniewski.

2. QB Andy Dalton, TCU: It wasn't that Dalton put up staggering numbers against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl (15/23 for 219 yards and a TD), but the poise he demonstrated in helping the Horned Frogs to their biggest win ever will not only help secure his place in TCU history, it will unquestionably boost his stock with NFL scouts. With their defense and special teams, TCU knew they could win the game as long as Dalton didn't attempt to win the game on his own. He didn't, playing within himself by making key reads, using his legs to buy time and pick up yardage and taking the occasional shot downfield. In doing so he atoned for the mistakes (three INTs) he made in TCU's loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl last year and reassured scouts that he has the mettle to handle the big stage.

1. DL Marcell Dareus, Alabama:
There were any number of Crimson Tide players that deserved acknowledgement for their 49-7 thrashing of Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl - not the least of which was RB Mark Ingram or WR Julio Jones - but the most dominant 'Bama player on New Years' Day was Dareus. He dominated the Spartans offensive line, easily handling one on one blocks and splitting double-teams, as well on his way to the backfield. Those that didn't watch the game may point out that Dareus had only three tackles (two TFL including a sack) and thus couldn't possibly warrant the top spot. As is often the case with dominant defensive linemen, however, Dareus' penetration and three QB hurries often gave his teammates easy opportunities to pad their own statistics. 
Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:31 am
Edited on: December 28, 2010 11:36 am
 

My All-Rookie Team

As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, I was recently asked to fill out my ballot for the All-Rookie Team.

While I reserve the right to change players over the final week of the season (and welcome your review) , this is how I have things now.

Offensive Rookie of the Year : Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay
Defensive Rookie of the Year : Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit
Overall Rookie of the Year : Suh

Offense
 
Quarterback: Sam Bradford, Rams: If he can go on the road and beat Seattle to win the NFC West, Bradford may overtake Williams as my Offensive ROY, but I'm not giving it to him just because he's a QB, went No. 1 and played well early. Bradford has faded late this year.

Running back: LaGarrette Blount, Bucs: Free agent leads all NFL rookies with 941 rushing yards while splitting duty.

Running back: Chris Ivory, Saints:
Can't overstate how vital of a role the free agent played with injuries to Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas.

Wide receiver: Mike Williams, Bucs:
Has been dynamic all year long. Leads rookie WRs in grabs (61), yards (924) and TDs (10).

Wide receiver: Dez Bryant, Cowboys:
Only started twice and injury sidelined him early but Dez was dazzling.

Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: Second to Williams in receiving TDs as a rookie with nine; which leads the Patriots.

Center: Mike Pouncey, Steelers: Deserves some Offensive Rookie of the Year consideration. A standout here since Day One.

Offensive guard: Mike Iupati, 49ers: A bit inconsistent, but has improved throughout the year and been one of SF's few bright spots.

Offensive guard: Ted Larsen, Bucs: Cut by Pats, signed by Bucs and has started the past 10 consecutive at LG for contending Bucs, giving him the edge over Zane Beadles in Denver.

Offensive tackle: Rodger Saffold, Rams: Overshadowed by Bradford, but has been quietly spectacular at LT this season.

Offensive tackle: Bryan Bulaga, Packers: Has been beaten at times, but versatility is key. Backup at LT, OG early. Has started last 10 at RT.


Defense

Defensive lineman: Carlos Dunlap, Bengals: Situational pass rusher (zero starts) for Bengals, but quietly is 2nd amongst rookies with 8 sacks. 

Defensive lineman: Ndamukong Suh, Lions: Leads all NFL defensive tackles -- not just rookies -- in tackles (60) and sacks (nine).

Defensive lineman: Tyson Alualu, Jaguars: A surprise at No. 10? Yes. A reach? No, considering he's 3rd amongst rookie DTs in tackles, 2nd in sacks.

Defensive lineman: Lamarr Houston, Raiders:
Similar #s, greater consistency, less help around him than Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul.

Linebacker: Pat Angerer, Colts: Quietly leads all rookie linebackers in tackles this season (80).

Linebacker: Daryl Washington, Cardinals: Doesn't have Ro McClain's big name or even quite his stats, but has been more impressive this year.

Linebacker: Koa Misi, Dolphins: Overshadowed by Cameron Wake, but versatility standing out (36 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 TD)

Cornerback: Devin McCourty, Patriots: In a typical year, he'd likely win the Defensive ROY. 81 tackles, 21 PBUs, 6 INTs, 2 FF for AFC's No. 1 seed.

Cornerback: Joe Haden, Browns: Similar numbers as McCourty - 58 tackles, 23 PBUs, 6 INTs, 1 FF.

Safety: Eric Berry, Chiefs: Gets nod over Earl Thomas as he's played better late for contending team. 84 tackles, 13 PBUs, 4 INTs, 1 FF, 1 TD.

Safety: TJ Ward, Browns:
Leads all rookies in tackles (116) and is second only to Suh in intimidation. Big hitter over the middle. 


Specialists

Placekicker: Clint Stitser, Bengals: 7 for 7 in FGs (though he's missed two PATs) since signing as UFA. Weak year for rookie kickers.

Punter: Zolton Mesko, Patriots: Unheralded component of Pats' success. Averaging 43 yards per and has zero blocked, returned for TDs against him.

Kickoff returner: Jacoby Ford, Raiders: Tied with Leon Washington for most kickoff return TDs this season (3).

Punt returner: Marc Mariani, Titans:
Better avg. on KOR than Ford; also dynamic as a punt returner. Has returned TDs both ways.


You can always expect the best coverage of the draft at NFLDraftScout.com.

Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:25 am
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Posted on: March 30, 2009 2:35 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2009 2:36 pm
 

OT Joel Bell, CB Brian McCain Flying up boards

Each year there are relative unknown players whose eye-popping workouts in February and March force scouts back into the film room. Many times scouts are quick to acknowledge the impressive athleticism of prospects to local media covering the event, but once they review the players on film, realize that the speed, agility and strength shown on the track or weight room doesn't translate onto the field. 

And then, sometimes, there are players whose workouts go well and scouts return to the film room to discover that perhaps they had simply overlooked or undervalued the prospects. Two such players moving up the charts this year are Furman offensive tackle Joel Bell and Utah cornerback Brian McCain.

Bell, a three-time all-conference selection at left tackle, was invited to the Combine and put forth one of the more impressive all-around workouts, earning top-ten marks in the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical, broad, 3-cone, and 20-yard shuttle at a shade under 6-7, 315 pounds. His workout was good enough that he didn't need to workout at Furman's Pro Day, though an eye-popping 25 teams still showed up to see him go through positional drills. 

Indianapolis Colts' scout Bob Guarini put Bell through a 20 minute workout while the other team scouts' watched. Besides the Colts, the teams represented were the Eagles, Titans, Saints, Jaguars, Browns, Steelers, Seahawks, Dolphins, Texans, Patriots, Lions, Chiefs, Falcons, Cowboys, Bears, 49ers, Rams, Raiders, Vikings, Bills, Giants, Panthers, Chargers, and the Packers.

Like Bell, Utah's McCain is hardly just a workout wonder, though the workout he put forth at the Ute's Pro Day could technically classify him as one. McCain was clocked in the low 4.3s and the buzz around scouting circles is that he's been timed even faster before. McCain's 20-yard shuttle (3.99) and 3-cone (6.74) drill times would have ranked among the best among the cornerbacks tested in Indianapolis. McCain, however, was not invited to the Combine, despite earning All-Mountain West accolades each of the past three seasons. While fellow defensive Sean Smith has the size scouts covet, McCain is the more athletic of the duo and has the rare speed and agility for man to man coverage. Among the estimated two dozen teams represented at McCain's workout were the Panthers, Lions, Dolphins and Seahawks. Considering the lack of speed shown by this year's cornerback class, some believe McCain could continue to rise as the draft approaches -- perhaps all the way to the 5th round.

 

 

 

Posted on: March 28, 2009 9:12 pm
 

Washington State WR Gibson Pro Day

 

 Washington State wide receiver Brandon Gibson, unable to work out at the Combine due to a right hamstring pull, worked out for scouts from at least 10 NFL teams in Seattle Saturday.

Gibson, who measured in at 6-0, 206 pounds (down four pounds from the Combine), was timed by scouts Saturday in the 4.55-4.63 seconds. He also posted a 34" vertical jump and a 9'5" broad jump. Gibson impressed me at the Senior Bowl with his precise footwork in route-running, but struggled with drops as the week went on. On Saturday, however, Gibson caught every pass thrown, despite windy conditions.

Gibson lacks the elite speed to warrant a first day selection, but his route-running, soft hands and experience make him an intriguing second day prospect -- especially for teams operating out of the West Coast Offense.

Among the teams represented at the workout were the Seahawks, Steelers, Ravens, Rams, Packers, Eagles, Lions, Chargers and Giants.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune recorded portions of Gibson's workout. It can be seen by copying and pasting the URL below.

http://blogs.thenewstribune.com/sea
hawks/

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com