This is a mere contemplation of what I think the Steelers need to do in the offseason and the upcoming draft. It may be early, but the future of this team hinges on critical improvements that need to be made in the offseason. The needs include (1) offensive line, (2) return game, (3) defensive line, and (4) the secondary.
Max Starks is far from the worst OL the Steelers have right now. He has played solid at LT this season ever since Marvel Smith has been injured. My gut feeling tells me that the Steelers will give the man a decent offer. I also have him agreeing because all of his comments regarding being with the Steelers next year all talk about his family and how they love Pittsburgh. This kid has a got a good head on him. I feel the Steelers will see him stay with them for at least another good stint of 4-5 years.
Jordan Gross has played lights-out this year for the Carolina Panthers at LT. The Pittsburgh Steelers need a LT for the future, and Gross is still young. He is the top LT entering free agency. However, that is just the problem. His price may be too high for the Steelers. However, he is still the top OL to enter free agency this offseason.
Is it a coincidence that Miami has resurfaced after a horrible 1-15 season? No. They put together a good OL with two good OTs with Jake Long and Vernon Carey. Vernon Carey is scheduled to become a free agent, and his price will probably not be near as high as Jordan Gross'. The Steelers should look at him to be an immediate upgrade over Willie Colon at RT.
The Steelers' run game has been the most inconsistent it has been in a decade. The guards the Steelers currently have are horrible. Simmons is horrible, but he tore his ACL. Darnell Stapleton is nothing more than a backup, and Chris Kemoeatu is as dumb as a box of rocks. Duke Robinson is the top-rated guard coming out this year, and he is a force in the run game. This prospect is the perfect piece to revive the Steelers' run game.
He is the best offensive lineman for the Sooners. He and Duke Robinson would make one hell of a left side for the offensive line. Plus, they would already have good chemistry. Great left side for years to come.
This may seem ludicrous to pick three offensive linemen from Oklahoma respectively in the first three rounds of the draft. However, that is how bad the offensive line of the Steelers is. And why not? All three of the prospects are very good. In addition, they would not have to gel in the pros because they were all on the same offensive line. In my honest opinion, that is one of the major problems when building an offensive line. However, in this case they already have great chemistry with one another.
The Steelers' special teams defense has improved immensely over the past two years. They were dead last in coverage in 2007. Now they are No. 1 in coverage. However, they have not improved at all in the return game. The Steelers this season are hosting RBs that are not cut out to be return men. Sure, the emergence of Gary Russell is an upgrade, but the Steelers need a game-changing return man.
Derrick Williams is that man. He is an electric return man at the college level, and many compare him to Devin Hester of the Bears. He is a solid WR prospect to complement his amazing return abilities.
McKillop is a natural ILB for the 3-4. He is instinctive, a great tackler, and good if not great in coverage. McKillop would probably be selected a lot higher if he was not overshadowed by a great group of LBs coming out this year. He will be the perfect partner for when Timmons replaces Foote at ILB.
Farrior is the leader of this defense, but he is 33 now. I would like to get a young insurance policy for him because I think the contract extension we gave him (five years) is kind of ridiculous considering his age. I think three years would have been more appropriate. I hope he proves me wrong. But back to McKillop—he is a great candidate for his replacement down the road.
I think that Ron Brace will be overlooked. He is the perfect 3-4 NT. He comes from Boston College, and they also boast the No. 1 NT for the 3-4, B.J. Raji. Both are very good, and Brace will fall. I also have the Steelers trading up to get him, using their extra seventh round draft pick to move up and get him.
One of the nation's best secrets. He was a big part of the surprising Nittany Lions defense this year. While his arrests may cause his draft stock to crumble, he is a solid CB in a deep class of talent. Also, the Steelers could use some youth to replace Deshea Townsend.
Steelers use their extra seventh round pick in order to move up and get Ron Brace.
A horrible year for the Michigan Wolverines. However, Johnson had a decent year. While he plays a DT in a 4-3 defense, he might do well as a DE in the 3-4. Pittsburgh's DEs aren't exactly young anymore...
On another note, they could even use this pick to trade up.
LB Robert Francois, Boston College
LB Michael Tauiliili, Duke
FS Josh Pinkard, USC
FS Nate Ness, Arizona
DL Sammie Lee Hill, Stillman
DL Cody Moore, TCU
WR Nate Swift, Nebraska
OT Gary Williams, Kentucky
OG/OT Ramon Foster, Tennessee
OG/OC Alex Fletcher, Stanford
DE/OLB Darius Davis, Wayne State
DE/OLB Jake Ratliff, Texas Tech
DE/OLB Lawrence Sidbury, Richmond