Pittsburgh Steelers Add Depth To Defensive Line While Collecting More Picks

Todd FlemingAnalyst IApril 26, 2009

PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 11:  Aaron Smith #91 of the Pittsburgh Steelers lines up on defense against the San Diego Chargers during their AFC Divisional Playoff Game on January 11, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Steelers won 35-24. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

As the first round winded down, a number of players the Steelers may have wanted were picked right in front of them. Steeler mock draft favorite, California center Alex Mack, went higher than expected to division rival Cleveland at 21. 

Tackle Michael Oher slid all the way to Baltimore at 23. The player many experts predicted the Steelers would take, Louisville mauler center Eric Wood, went to Buffalo at 28. 

The pick was followed immediately by the selection of the player I suspected the Steelers were quietly coveting, North Carolina wide receiver Hakeem Nicks who will now be catching balls from Eli Manning

Tennessee grabbed the last wide receiver who could realistically be picked in the first round, Kenny Britt from Rutgers, at 30. He was a player I did not want to see in black and gold. 

This left the Steelers positioned to take one of the best players left on the board at a position of need. I thought they might reach for Oregon center Max Unger but they chose Missouri defensive tackle Evander "Ziggy" Hood. 

While the selection may not help them as much next year as the selection of a cornerback or receiver, it does add much needed depth to the defensive line position. I was a little surprised Mel Kiper intoned the pick was a reach since he was right at the top of his best remaining players board.

I don't think this selection means the Steelers are moving past Casey Hampton, still one of the better 3-4 nose tackles in the league. That is not a position I thought they could replace in this draft and I don't think they will try. 

Hood will likely add immediate depth behind the vastly underrated Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel. While the defensive line is aging, these guys aren't exactly ready for the geriatrics home. Aaron Smith remains the best 3-4 defensive end in the league.

From what I've read on Hood, he may take a little bit of time before he is ready to excel.  He needs to develop some additional strength and improve his technique. 

But, he won't have to start right away. 

The Steelers will work with him and give him some time to develop. Overall, I think it was a good choice and the timing was about right.  Plus, the Steelers were in serious need of depth at that position.

The decision to move out of the second round to pick up an added third round choice was a great move.  Despite winning the Super Bowl and having a roster loaded with superstars, the Steelers are not a team without needs.  They need depth all along the offensive line, at cornerback, and at wide receiver.  Those are the positions they will be addressing with all those third round picks.  

This is a good draft for that kind of strategy. The dropoff in talent behind the second round and third round is not that great with a lot of depth at positions the Steelers are targeting. The next few rounds of the draft will be important for the Steelers. 

That is where someone like Kevin Colbert really earns his pay.  Look for the Steelers to add an offensive lineman, a receiver, and a cornerback with those three third round picks.