Perhaps no area came under more scrutinty during the Steelers 2009 season than its linebacking corps and secondary.
As fate would have it, time is running short, and Steel Curtain Rising will give these areas the least attention. So be it.
The Steelers Situation at Linebacker
The return of Larry Foote gives the Steelers three starter capable linebackers on the inside, and three at the outside. (Timmons can play inside and outside, and Keyron Fox has not gotten his just due.)
How the Steelers Should Address Linebacker During the Draft:
The problem is that once you get past Larry Foote and Keryon Fox, the quality of the Steelers depth drops. Like a rock. Maybe Patrick Bailey can develop into solid backup material. Who even remembers who they have on their roster after that.
James Harrison is over 30 and James Farrior is closer to 40 than he is thirty. The Steelers need depth and they need to start grooming future starters. While this is an important need that the team must address early, linebacker takes a back seat to the offensive lien and the secondary.
The Steelers Situation at Secondary
The fact that Tory Polamalu played so little yet led Steelers DB’s in interceptions is disturbing. Pick you metaphor, but the Steelers secondary got shredded, torched and scorched.
This is bad, and secondary is still a serious need, but perhaps the good news is that the bad news isn’t so bad.
While the team is right to party ways with Tyrone Carter, the Steelers can expect almost every member of its secondary to play better next year, regardless of Troy Polamalu’s health. By the end of the year the unit was so thoroughly shell shocked and playing with zero confidence.
Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark will certainly have better years. And the Steelers have two young corners who look to contribute this year.
Even if that’s true, this secondary has holes.
How the Steelers Should Address the Secondary in the Draft
William Gay remains a huge question mark. He exceeded expectations in 2008 only to fall flat on his face in 2010. Is he a legit starter, or is he better suited as a nickel/third cornerback?
Either way, if the Steelers get a shot at a true shut down corner they should take him, as Ike Taylor is getting older and heading into the final year of his contract.
The Steelers also have needs at safety. Ryan Mundy might show some promise, but they need someone else who can step in at a moments notice.
And they need to begin grooming replacements for both Clark and Polamalu. Defensive back is an area the Steelers must be ready to hit multiple times during the draft. And they need to do it earlier than later.