2011 NFL Draft: O-Line, Wide-Out or D for the Pittsburgh Steelers' First Round?

Cameron WeimerContributor IDecember 29, 2010

2011 NFL Draft: O-Line, Wide-Out Or D For the Pittsburgh Steelers' First Round?

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    Mike Tomlin and Co. will have some tough decisions to make heading into the draftJared Wickerham/Getty Images

    With the 2010 season winding down, the Pittsburgh Steelers organization has a decision to make for the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft. Who will be the best first-round selection?

    For a team that has been transformed from a run to pass-first offense with the addition of Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, many would think an offensive lineman should be picked.

    But will they?

    With many critics (including their own head coach) doubting the youth of the defense, is it time for a defensive selection again?

    Those are facts, but the draft order is out of everyone's control for now. At this point, we can only sit back and watch the playoffs unfold, until we can finally make the executive decision ourselves.

Best Offensive Selection: Mike Pouncey, OL, Florida

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    Mike Pouncey wouldn't mind joining his brother in Pittsburgh as their first round selection.Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    Mike Pouncey, brother of Maurkice Pouncey (current Pittsburgh Steelers starting center), is the starting center for the Florida Gators and would be a solid pick-up for the Steelers and depth on the offensive line.

    At 6'4" and 313 lbs, Mike Pouncey clearly has the size to play the position. The great thing about Pouncey though is his ability to play both the center and right guard positions.

    With his brother being one of the best young centers in the NFL today, this gives them added depth at the position. But if the Steelers were to start him at right guard, this will gain plenty of trust amongst the offensive line.

    From a quarterback standpoint, you must trust your offensive line, and what better than two brothers side-by-side? With the addition of veteran Flozell Adams this season as well as the youth of Ramon Foster and Christ Kemoeatu, this would seem to be a very promising pick for the Steelers come April.

Best Defensive Selection: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

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    Aaron Williams would add youth to the aging defense.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The best defensive option for the Pittsburgh Steelers would be defensive back Aaron Williams from the University of Texas.

    Listed at 6'1" and 195 lbs, with a 4.47 (40), Wlliams would make a nice fit at corner for the Steelers. Williams has great anticipation, tackling ability, and overall size. In a defense that is built upon physical football, Williams would fit right in.

    With the addition of Anquan Boldin, Terrell Owens, along with the Browns Josh Cribbs in the AFC North, Aaron Williams' size would be very beneficial to the Steelers secondary. His size would be a great man-to-man cover option on the bigger built wide receivers, as well as a consistent run stopper, which is a key strength with the emergence of Peyton Hillis in Cleveland. That is not to mention Williams is a return specialist as well.

    A weakness of adding the defensive back is simple.  The Steelers would be adding youth to the youngest part of their defense.

    Don't be surprised if the Steelers decide to look for any position on defense. The fact is their aging and pass defense has been ailing as of late. It's safe to say that every position is an option in Pittsburgh, just not that coordinating job. That will be Dick LeBeaus until his retirement.

Wildcard Selections

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    Heyward's speed and size compares to that of Dwight Freeney and Julius Peppers. We'll see what he is capable of come 2011.Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Overall I believe either Mike Pouncey and Aaron Williams would be big assets to the Steelers team come 2011. My wildcard selections are those players that would definitely make an impact, but are not needed to fill positions immediately.

    Age isn't only a factor on defense. Hines Ward, the 13th year man out of Georgia, is near the tail end of his career.

    This opens options for a wide-out, defensive lineman, and linebacker all based on the factor of age.

    Losing a spectacular possession receiver, as well as an outstanding blocker like Ward is crucial to the offense. His overall game fills the needs of an overall wide receiver in the National Football League today.

    Speed and strength is a dynamic that needs to be looked at on the defensive side as well.

    Here are a few prospects.


    Possible wildcard selections:

    Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh: 6'6" - 225 lbs

    Baldwin has great size for a potential big time wide receiver, adding him would open up the speedster Mike Wallace, as well as running holes for Rashard Mendenhall.


    Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State: 6'6" - 280 lbs

    Cameron Heyward has great speed at 280 lbs running a 4.9 (40) at Ohio State's pro day. The height, size and speed of Heyward compares to that of Julius Peppers. If Heyward was drafted and played like Peppers, the "Steel Curtain" would be impenetrable.


    Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama: 6'2" - 245 lbs

    Dont'a Hightower would be a valuable pick-up at the inside linebacker position. James Farrior, heading into his 15th season next year, will soon need to be replaced. Although Farrior is playing arguably better at his older age, it will soon become a factor with every year that goes by.

    Plugging Hightower into the 3-4 core next to Timmons, Harrison, and Woodley would inevitably give this defense the speed and size to control anybody in the NFL.



    There you have it, the 2011 NFL Draft prospects for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Will the depth of the offensive line and the great tradition behind the "Steel Curtain" be the deciding factor? Or will it be the age of a veteran wide-out who is seemingly irreplaceable?

    All these questions will be answered come late April, let's just see if the right pick is made.