Pittsburgh Steelers: Reviewing the 5 Biggest Scouting Combine Takeaways

Nick DeWitt@@nickdewitt11Analyst IFebruary 29, 2012

Pittsburgh Steelers: Reviewing the 5 Biggest Scouting Combine Takeaways

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    As the Pittsburgh Steelers, as well as the league's other 31 teams, retreat to their war rooms to sift through the massive amounts of data from the recent annual Scouting Combine, it is time to evaluate some of the takeaways Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin should have seen.

    Here's a look at the five biggest takeaways from the Combine.

Dontari Poe = Casey Hampton II

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    Poe was the heaviest player at the event, weighing in at 346 pounds.

    That puts him in the same department as Casey Hampton, the team's current nose tackle.

    Poe is one of the many players making the rounds as a mock draft candidate for Pittsburgh.

    As for his performance in the drills, Poe turned some heads. His 4.98 second time in the 40-yard dash would likely put Hampton to shame, even in his younger days.

    He looked explosive in the drills and displayed the ability to be a disruptive force from the nose, something the Steelers are certainly looking for as Hampton's age and injuries have become a concern.

    If the Steelers didn't have Poe at the top of their draft boards already, I would say he'd be my favorite for the 24th pick if he's still available.

Jeff Allen's Big Day

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    The Steelers may be looking to upgrade the guard position with multiple picks in this year's draft. They might need to take a good look at Illinois guard Jeff Allen.

    At the Combine, Allen showed great skill at playing the pulling guard role that was a staple in Pittsburgh when Alan Faneca manned the left guard position.

    If the team wants to return to a more smash-mouth style, they would do well to get someone like Allen who can make that pulling ability pay off in games.

    There are a wide range of offensive line prospects on the team's likely radar, but Allen might be a good second or third round candidate and his stock is now on the rise.

Russell Wilson Questions

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    Wilson is one of the players I've projected for mock drafts as a potential late round addition that can be groomed behind Ben Roethlisberger and a to-be-determined veteran next season as the long term backup plan.

    Unfortunately, Wilson still has concerns.

    His below average size (5'10") doesn't inspire. Wilson had some good moments at the Combine, but he didn't show anything to the scouts that they didn't already have on his game film from Wisconsin.

    That might be good news for the Steelers, who benefit from Wilson's stock being lower.

    If he continues to stay in the late rounds of mocks, there's a good chance he might land here, where he could be quite valuable.

The Linebacker Equation

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    Inside linebacker is a position that also could stand a youth movement in Pittsburgh.

    Among the candidates from the first round or early second are Dont'a Hightower and Vontaze Burfict. Both are likely to be around late in the first round.

    Neither impressed at the Combine.

    To my view, Hightower still doesn't show the flexibility and style that the Steelers value in the linebackers. He's stiff and his main attribute is that he's immensely tough and strong.

    Burfict has character issues and effort issues. His 40-yard time was over five seconds (worse than Poe, who is almost 100 pounds heavier).

    He simply has not inspired confidence.

    The Steelers, who I thought may be looking the way of a linebacker early, may now wait until there's a lower-risk area.

    The two top players I thought would be on the board at their first selection don't seem to be very worthy of that pick.

Running Back Ideas

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    Chris Polk has moved around draft boards like crazy and he is a player that I'd say Pittsburgh could nab in the second round if they play their cards right.

    His Combine work backed it up.

    Polk was a marvel in the back specific drills and showed excellent technique and also an ability to cut back that mirrors or exceeds what Rashard Mendenhall has made into his calling card.

    There are no guarantees that the Steelers will be looking into their backfield on draft day, but with the sentiment that a power running game must be revived and the injury questions around Mendenhall, a potential star like Polk might be very hard to ignore.