2010 NFL Draft: Who Will the Pittsburgh Steelers Target in Round One?
The Pittsburgh Steelers were surprisingly busy little bees during the first wave of free agency.
Kevin Colbert, Steelers director of football operations, shelled out over $63 million dollars in contracts to lock up eight players.
Unusual to say the least for the normally free agent shy franchise.
The moves were solid and addressed various needs.
Bringing back Ryan Clark and signing Will Allen from Tampa Bay strengthens the safety position. Add to that a guy named Polamalu coming back healthy, and safety is no longer a deep concern.
All-Pro NT Casey Hampton was re-upped and kicker Jeff Reed was given the franchise tag to stay with the black and gold.
The biggest free agent signing was the return of ILB Larry Foote. Pittsburgh missed his aggressiveness and run stuffing ability in the middle.
He's returned from his exile in Detroit and will battle Lawrence Timmons for the starting job.
No matter what happens in that battle, the Steelers have the best linebacker depth in the NFL with Timmons, Foote, James Farrior, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, and Keyaron Fox.
The wide receiver position was strengthened with fan-favorite Antwaan Randle-El returning, and the signing of Arnaz Battle from the 49ers.
Did you get the message Limas Sweed?
With the first wave of free agency over, Colbert and company now turn their attention to the NFL Draft.
Do they draft for need or take the best player available?
The Steelers need help at offensive line, defensive line and corner, but if a Rolando McClain or Taylor Mays is available—will Pittsburgh pull the trigger?
Here's a look at some of the players the Steelers may target in the first round.
Mike Iupati, G, Idaho
The 6'5", 332-pound Iupati is the best interior offensive lineman in the draft.
The three-year starter was a two-time All-WAC selection who plays with a mean streak and is a nasty, devastating run blocker. He was clearly the best lineman at the Senior Bowl and cemented his draft stock with a strong performance at the NFL Combine.
Once considered a second or third-round selection, Iupati is a solid first-round pick.
The Steelers need help at offensive line after surrendering 50 or more sacks for the second straight year.
Iupati can come in and is NFL-ready as a run blocker, but he'll need some work with his pass blocking. He was never in a three-point stance in college because the Vandals ran the spread.
Terrence Cody, NT, Alabama
A first-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press and league coaches, a consensus first-team All-American who anchored the No. 2 rush defense (74.1 yards per game) and the No. 3 total defense (263.5 yards per game) in the country, and a Chuck Bednarik Award semifinalist.
Cody is a space eater, sometimes taking on two or even three blockers at a time.
He's a clone of Casey Hampton and just like Casey when he came out of college, scouts are concerned about his weight and how many plays he can be in during a game.
Cody answered some of his critics by slimming down to 349 pounds for his Pro Day workout. He was 370 after Alabama's season ended and 356 at the combine.
"Mount Cody" is the best nose tackle in this draft. Despite that, he still may fall into the second round because of the weight issues. As far as his ability on the field, there are zero question marks there.
Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
The Steelers' secondary was woefully inadequate in 2009.
Losing Troy Polamalu had a lot to do with it, but all of the secondary, especially the corners, underperformed last season. That's why the front office and coaching staff should look long and hard at this Boise State product.
Wilson was a four-year starter for the Broncos, so he knows how to play in big games.
He rolled up impressive numbers during his senior campaign (five interceptions, 10 pass breakups, and 15 passes defended) on his way to All-WAC honors. In addition, his 14.2 yards per punt return was the best in the conference.
Has has decent size (5'10", 190-pounds), nice wheels (4.42 in the forty), and surprising strength (25 bench reps).
Wilson is the number two corner in this draft behind Florida's Joe Haden, but he may be more valuable because of his special teams ability.
Taylor Mays, FS, USC
Mays, a four-year starter at USC, is a freak of nature.
I mean that in a good way.
He has that rare combination of size (6'3", 230-pounds), speed (4.32 in the forty), and strength (24 reps in the bench).
Mays is a banger. He loves to make the crushing hits and that's where he can get into trouble.
He's best used as a centerfield defensive back because he's good when the play is in front of him. Up close, he sometimes takes bad angles and misses tackles.
Mays has all the athletic ability to be a star in the NFL and will most likely be gone when the Steelers pick.
If for some strange reason he's still available, don't be surprised if Colbert pulls the trigger and brings another Trojan alum to the Pittsburgh secondary.
Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama
McClain was the leader of Alabama's powerful defense and clearly is the best linebacker in this year's draft.
A three-year starter and the 2009 Butkus Award winner, McClain is an athletic, sideline-to-sideline force who's motor never stops running.
He has nice size (6'4", 249-pounds) and decent speed (4.68 in the forty). He can play either outside or inside but in the middle is where he shines.
McClain is better in a 3-4 defense where he can roam the field behind a big nose tackle.
Like Mays, McClain should be gone before the Steelers pick, but if he's still there, Colbert would have a tough decision on his hands.
Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri
All the guy does is make plays.
Weatherspoon is a versatile, high-motor linebacker who can play inside or outside. He could thrive in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme and because of that, his draft stock is rising fast.
He led the Big 12 Conference in tackles (11 per game), as well as being a Butkus Award Finalist and unanimous first team All-Big 12 selection. His 155 tackles this season were the second most in Missouri history. He was also a four-year starter for the Tigers.
He's a high motor guy who plays sideline-to-sideline. His three interceptions and team-leading seven pass breakups shows he can play the pass as equally effectively as the run.
The Steelers brought back Larry Foote and are deep at linebacker, but age is starting to set in at the position and Weatherspoon is a Dick LeBeau type of player.
Jared Odrick, DE-DT, Penn State
Defensive line is a need for the Steelers and versatility is the main reason Odrick is so appealing for many NFL clubs.
Odrick is a team leader who was named 2009 Big Ten defensive player and defensive lineman of the year. His strength is that versatility, which could serve him as a tackle in a four-man line or even at nose tackle in a 3-4.
His 6'5", 304-pound frame is perfect for a 3-4 end and he has the frame to gain more weight if need be.
He's big and strong and has good hand technique to shed blockers. Odrick is steadily improving and can only get better with experience and solid coaching.
Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers
Davis is considered by some scouts to be the best tackle in the draft.
The 6'5", 323-pounder can play both tackle and guard positions, but his stock has fallen some after a so-so performance at the scouting combine and missing his pro day workout due to illness.
Davis will workout again for the pros on March 30, and if he can impress, he should move back up the draft boards.
Solid left tackles aren't easy to find. With the Steelers offensive line a weak spot, Davis could be the pick if he has a good pro day workout.