Introducing The Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 Starting Lineup
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Did that headline REALLY just say, the 2015 starting line up? Yes, it did!
I know that people are going to be wondering why I would try to name the starting line up in 2015, instead of the 2010. Simple, everyone and their uncle is doing one for the 2010, and I wanted to give all of you the chance to take a peak into my crystal ball.
I will be writing one on the 2010 team, and when I get it done, you can find the link to it HERE.
I know, there is a lot that can change in five years, sure. I get it. But, why not? This should be fun, and I hope that all of you enjoy the read!
Still leading the charge!
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Ben Roethlisberger is currently one of the most controversial players in the NFL. Some people love him, while others can't stand him.
That is all good with Steelers Nation!
If you take the off the field issues away, that would not change that most of the fans of the NFL hate Big Ben. Why? Simple - He wins.
In 2015, Roethlisberger will be 33 years old, and by that point, will have already won his third, and possibly his fourth Super Bowl Championship. He has done a lot of growing up in the past two months, and is about to get his career on track.
Sure, there will still be the haters, that insist Ben is not as great as the Steelers fans think he is. But, when he puts that fourth and possibly fifth Championship ring on his finger, the debate will officially be over.
Rashard Mendenhall will be part of a two-headed monster in the Steelers back field.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
The 2015 Steelers are going to have a two-headed maching in their backfield. One that Steelers Nation has not seen since the days of Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier.
Rashard Mendenhall (28 years old) and Isaac "Redzone" Redman (30 years old), will be the driving force on the ground for the Steelers.
Mendenhall is going to still be the featured back. At the age of 28, he is still going to be at the peak of his career, which as it continues to grow, will put him in the top five backs in the NFL.
Redman, who is more of a battering ram type of player, will have lost some of his speed by the time he is 30, but will still be able to gain the short yardage that the Steelers have not been able to get since the retirement of Jerome Bettis.
The Steelers will have a third option, but it will be a young guy, taken in the third or fourth round in the 2013 or 2014 draft, but I am not going to even TRY to speculate as to whom it might be.
Mike Wallace will be the Steelers top receiver in 2015.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
The Pittsburgh Steelers receiving corp is currently one of the youngest in the league (Minus Hines Ward, of course). In the year 2015, the Steelers will have an experienced group that will be one of the best in the NFL.
Led by Mike Wallace, who in the next five years, will take the same path as Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, and be one of the most productive receivers in the NFL.
Across from Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders is going to keep the Hines Ward mentality alive and well in the Burgh, as he becomes a threat that teams have to worry about, catching AND blocking.
The Steelers third receiver will be Brandon London. London may not even make the team this year, but his size is something that Ben Roethlisberger wants, and at this point, is the only real option with that kind of size I can think to put on this list. (If anyone says that I am wrong, really? I am looking 5 years into the future, cut me some slack, OK?)
The fourth and fifth receiver will be drafted in 2013 and 2014, respectfully.
(SPOILER ALERT: Hines Ward is going to retire from the NFL after the Steelers win the Super Bowl following the 2010 season. The good news is, Ward joins the coaching staff of the Steelers as Wide Receivers coach in 2012, then moves to Offensive Coordinator in 2014.)
Still one of the best.
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
When the Steelers reach 2015, Heath Miller will be nearing the end of his amazing career. Miller will be 32, and though he will still be one of the best in the NFL, reality is, he is going to start slowing down.
Miller will still be the starter, but the Steelers are going to draft someone in either 2014 or 2015 to eventually replace Miller.
The only possible player that is currently on the Steelers roster that may be on the team in 2015, would be second year player, David Johnson.
Though, Johnson is not having a great sophomore pre-season, he still has a lot of talent, and could still be with the team in 2015.
Replace Tim Tebow with Ben Roethlisberger, and that could be the Steelers interior line.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The Steelers will be picking late in the 2010 NFL Draft, and may have to trade up to get the player they want, Mike Pouncey.
Thats right, that is what the crystal ball is telling me, the Steelers will take Maurkice Pounceys twin brother, with their first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and re-unite the brothers to form an amazing interior line in Pittsburgh.
They say to have a successful offensive line, the players have to know each other, and I can not imagine two players knowing each other better than twin brothers.
Left Tackle (SPOILER ALERT!) Following the 2011 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be have one of the hottest trading commodities in the NFL. Dennis Dixon is going to show during the 2010 suspension of Ben Roethlisberger, and in spot duty the rest of the 2010 and 2011 season, that he is the real deal. There is going to be a VERY high demand for him, similar to that of Matt Schaub when he was with the Falcons.
Many teams will be interested in Dixon, and there is going to be a bidding war for his services, and the Steelers will benefit from it.
The team that needs Dixon the most, is the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers are going to trade former first round pick, Anthony Davis (2010, 11th overall) to the Steelers for Dixon, in addition to swapping picks with the Steelers in the first round.
Right Tackle will be Ramone Foster. Foster joined the Steelers as a undrafted free agent following the 2009 season, and out played third round pick Kraig Urbik. Foster is adapting to the NFL game, and in the next three years, will overtake the starting position.
The Center piece of the line will be 2010 first round pick, Maurkice Pouncey. Considering that Pouncey is slated to be the starter in his rookie season, it looks like the Steelers have found their center of the future with Maurkice Pouncey, and he will be the next in the long line of Steelers Centers, which include Mike Webster, Dermonti Dawson, and Jeff Hartings.
The Steelers will spend their first round pick, as I stated earlier, on Mike Pouncey, the twin brother of Maurkice, to play on the left side of the line, between Maurkice and Anthony Davis.
Chris Kemoeatu will be switching from the left side of the line, and at the age of 32. Kemoeatu does a decent job on the left side, but when he moves to right, he will be able to prolong his career, and make some Pro Bowls.
Ziggy Hood is the Aaron Smith of the future!
Greg Fiume/Getty Images
With all of the talk about the age of the Steelers defensive line, many people think that the line the Steelers have right now, will be completely different than the one that they will have in 2015. For those of you that believe that, I want you to think of one thing, Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, and many others that have been a success in Pittsburgh, were drafted late in the draft.
That being said, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is going to be different in 2015 than it is today. There are TWO reasons as to why the Steelers defense has been so successful for so many years. Dick LeBeau and the 3-4 defense.
In 2015, Dick LeBeau will be retired, and by the way the NFL is transforming, more than half the league will be running the 3-4 by 2015.
When LeBeau retires following the 2012 season, Mike Tomlin is going to promote Keith Butler to the defensive coordinator position. Since it is obvious that Butler is NOT Dick LeBeau, he is going to need the help of Mike Tomlin to keep the Steelers defense at the top of the NFL. (That is NO disrespect to Butler. LeBeau is the best defensive mind in the history of the NFL. Regardless of who would take the Steelers Defensive Coordinator, it would be a step down from LeBeau.)
As I have said MANY times, when LeBeau retires, I believe that the Steelers are going to be switching to the 4-3 defense. I believe that much of the 2010 draft selections were to assist in the fact that we are building for the eventual switch.
2009 first round pick, Evander "Ziggy" Hood will move back to his original position of Defensive Tackle in the 4-3. Playing next to him will be either Ra'Shon "Sonny" Harris (6th Round, 2009), or a draft pick from the 2012 or 2013 NFL Draft.
The Steelers Defensive Ends for the Steelers will be LaMarr Woodley and 2010 second round pick, Jason Worilds.
Worilds is a VERY similar player as Woodley, who are both 6'2, and in the 265 pound range. That is perfect size for a defensive end in the 4-3 defense. This would allow Woodley and Worilds to rush the passer on every play, which translates to playing to BOTH of their strengths.
Lawrence Timmons will be moved to OLB following the 2013 season.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Lawrence Timmons is on the brink of becoming an elite player in the NFL. Timmons may not ever make it as the best Inside Line Backer in the NFL, but when he is moved to Outside, then you will see him be able to excell into his natural position.
Why, would the Steelers move Timmons Outside? You will see when you get to the next slide, but I PROMISE you, you will be shocked.
Once Timmons move to the Outside, the Steelers will not lose a step, moving Woodley to the Defensive End position.
Playing opposite of Timmons will be Stevenson Sylvester. Sylvester has done a VERY respectable job as a rookie during training camp. IF, and it is a BIG if, Sylvester can make the transition to playing Outside, then he, teaming with Timmons, would keep the Steelers Line Backers as one of the best in the NFL.
The BEST Safety in the NFL, will become one of the BEST Line Backers in the NFL.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
That is right, Troy Polamalu will eventually be moved to Inside Line Backer.
Why would the Steelers move Troy Polamalu to ILB? Simple, necessity.
Make NO mistake about it, Troy Polamalu is a one of a generation player. He is going to be one of the best to ever play the game.
Reality is, in 2015, Troy Polamalu is going to be 34 years old, and he is not going to have the same speed that he has today. Polamalu will still be too good of a player to not have on the field, but he will not be fast enough to be the Safety he is today.
Instead of him not being on the field, the Steelers are going to change his position, to keep him on the field, while his career winds down.
Keenan Lewis is in route to becoming the Steelers top Corner in 2015.
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
When the 2015 season kicks off, the Steelers will still have some farmilar faces in their secondary, even though they will have some new ones.
Keenan Lewis has earned the Nickel Corner spot of the Steelers in 2010. Lewis is going to allow the Steelers to part ways with Will Gay. In five years, Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden will both be too old, and slow to be the starters in the Steelers secondary.
Keenan Lewis will be the starter on one side for the Steelers, while 2010 rookie Crezdon Butler is going to man the other side of the secondary.
Butler has earned a lot of respect in his rookie pre-season. Will he make the roster this year? You are going to have to check my 2010 roster predictions to know that, but, come 2015, he WILL be the starter on one side for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Joe Burnett may still be with the team as the Nickel Back, but if he is not, then the Steelers will be drafting someone to play the role in 2013 or 2014,
Could Ryan Munday replace Ryan Clark?
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
One of the realities the Steelers are going to have to face is that Ryan Clark only has a year or two left to play at the level he is currently playing at. One of the players that the Steelers HOPE will be able to eventually take his place is Ryan Mundy.
Mundy is a Pittsburgh kid, who played his college ball at the University of West Virginia. There are not many players on the Steelers that want to be a success with their team as much as Mundy does, growing up a fan of the team.
The only question is, will Mundy make the strides to become the player that the Steelers need him to become to earn that title?
Mundy has all of the physical skills to play the Free Safety. He is 6'1, 210 lbs. He has good speed, and when he hits, he does it right. He just can't seem to be in the right place at the right time enough.
Could it still happen? No question. WILL it still happen? Only time will tell, but if it doesen't soon, Mundy will be watching someone drafted in 2013 or 2014 playing the position he wanted to play since he was a kid.
When Troy Polamalu makes the switch to Inside Line Backer, the Steelers secondary is obviously going to take a hit. Any time you lose a player in the deep third of the secondary, with the talent of Troy Polamalu, it is going to hurt.
Regardless of who takes his place, if he is compared to Polamalu, will not be close to being able to fill those shoes.
Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith may not make the active roster for the Steelers in 2010, but he is being groomed to be the eventual replacement to Troy.
DCS (As I will refer to him from this point forward, because his name is JUST TOO LONG), has the potential to eventually earn the starting spot as the Steelers Strong Safety.
IF Mike Tomlin does not believe that DCS is going to be able to be the solid starter that the Steelers will need, then expect them to draft someone in the next year or two.
Future Steelers Coaching Staff?
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
When looking at the future of the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers, there really is only one thing that is certain.
Mike Tomlin WILL BE THE COACH.
The people around him will be different. As I stated earlier in this slide show, when Dick LeBeau retires, Keith Butler will be his replacement.
Hines Ward will return to the Steelers after a two year retirement of playing, and become the eventual coach of the offense.
That picture can be a preview of what the Steelers coaching staff is going to look like in the future.
Love the "Sticky" Lombardi!
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
I have to wonder, come 2015, how many of these the Steelers will have.
The Steelers are a team that builds for the future. This list is meant to bring discussion, and for fun. PLEASE do not think that everything that I am saying here is going to happen, because if it did, I would not be writing here, it would be for ESPN (or the National Enquirer).
Let me know what you think. Maybe you think I am nuts, maybe you think it is wishful thinking. Feel free to let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading.