Getting an elite left tackle in the first round may be a pie in the sky scenario at this point for the Steelers. They seem determined to address some defensive needs in the early rounds of the draft.
Since Mike Tomlin has taken the helm in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have broken away from the need-filling mold of Bill Cowher and gone with taking one of the best available players on the board.
The biggest need the Steelers have defensively is at cornerback, but there is only one elite-level corner in this year’s draft. They are more likely to look at their defensive line rather than selecting from the second-tier corners available in the first round.
The defensive line crop in this year’s draft is larger than it has ever been, but perhaps no one embodies that better than Terrence Cody of Alabama.
At 6’5", 365 pounds, “Mount Cody” provides a physically imposing force up the middle and has the potential to become a great nose tackle in the Steelers 3-4 defense. Since Cody came to Alabama, no individual has rushed for over 100 yards in a game against the Tide. It’s hard to see it as a coincidence considering the massive physical presence Cody brings to the interior defensive line.
Drafting Cody makes perfect sense in light of the fact that Casey Hampton is coming into free agency. It is likely that the Steelers will franchise tag him for the 2010 season.
This will give the Steelers a full season to mentor Cody as his replacement. Hampton has been an elite nose tackle since the Steelers drafted him in the first round back in 2001. However, he isn’t exactly known for keeping himself in peak physical condition, and he’s not getting any younger.
With Cody waiting in the wings, it will be much easier for the Steelers to part ways with Hampton after next season.