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Steelers offensive needs and possible draft targets

ESPN has the offensive needs and some possible options for all the AFC North teams. Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. has the commentary below on the Steelers, including some possible choices for them in the April draft:

Offensive needs: Offensive tackle, guard, center

2009 recap: Pittsburgh’s offense was very good in 2009. They had a 1,000-yard rusher (Rashard Mendenhall), two 1,000-yard receivers (Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes) and a 4,000-yard quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger). But despite the gaudy numbers, the Steelers sputtered in the red zone and averaged only 23 points per game. Pittsburgh needs to get much tougher near the goal line, and it starts up front. The Steelers struggled to get the tough yards because their offensive line is below average and they have no dominant force to run behind when it’s time to punch it into the end zone. Although cornerback help is probably the team’s biggest need, a dominant offensive tackle or guard wouldn’t hurt.

Potential offensive targets: Idaho guard Mike Iupati, Oklahoma tackle Trent Williams, Florida center Maurkice Pouncey

Scouts Inc. analysis: “If you look at their offensive line, there isn’t one position that I would say, ‘Wow, they are brutal there. Boy, do they need a center, or boy, do they need a tackle.’ But if they could get one stud, if they can get one Alan Faneca or Dermontti Dawson and live with the other four, I think their O-line would go from below average to above average. Guys like Willie Colon, Max Starks and Chris Kemoeatu would all of a sudden be a little better. I don’t want to see them use a third-round pick on a guard or a center. Either go get the lineman that is a potential Pro Bowler or don’t even bother, because I don’t think it’s going to make that big a difference. There are so many great interior defensive linemen in this division that you can’t be average up the middle. You need to be really, really good. Use the first-round pick on a guy like Iupati from Idaho or don’t even bother. Just go back with what you have and use your resources somewhere else.” — Williamson

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. arrow61095

    February 25, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I have to disagree a little with the all or nothing approach with the O-line in this draft due to the depth. Mike Iupati is a bit overrated (If you watched the senior bowl, you would know that he has problems with holding).

    Personally, I think there are some guys that you may be able to get outside the first round that could upgrade the O-line.

    Charles Brown, OT, Southern Cal – 2nd round – Used to be a tight end. Needs to bulk up at (6-6 285 lbs). Considerable upside, excels in pass protection, is a future left tackle.

    John Jerry, OG, Ole Miss – Round 3 or 4- A massive physical specimen at 6-5½ and 332 pounds who is stout at the point of attack and came through with a handful of dominant pancake blocks where he simply put the defender on the ground at the senior bowl. Will be coveted by a team with a power run game. Plays with a good pad level and was able to extend his arms. Is patient and let speed rushers come to him. Excellent senior bowl practices. Looked solid in the senior bowl game.

    Eric Olsen, C, Notre Dame – Round 5 or 6 – A bit underrated. Did pretty good at the senior bowl. Smart enough to make line calls. Plays with a nasty streak – knows his toughest opponent and goes after him all game long.

  2. DrGeorge

    March 2, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Matt Williamson has the analysis and the strategy right: IF the Steelers use a top pick on an O-lineman, the guy should be a real freak of nature. Another average linemen won’t help us very much. But I don’t seen any “sure fire” linemen this year. Big specimens, yes. But no one that is of the quality of a young Faneca. Massive linemen always look good in college against smaller defenders, but it is difficult to project that talent to the next level against guys their own size. What the Steelers O-line lacks more than size is foot speed — but big + fast is not easy to find in any year.

    What is worse, we have yet to see Arians design an effective and consistent running game with the decent talent he already has. I’m not convinced a young Faneca or any dominant lineman can make a big difference until the run blocking schemes are improved.

    The talent mentioned by Arrow and Williamson are highly rated, and I have no quarrel with any of these players. But the Steelers defensive needs are so great, I’d be surprised if Mr. Colbert uses either of the top two picks on offense.

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