By now you’ve probably seen a million breakdowns of the Steelers 2011 NFL draft needs at Quarterback and Wide Receiver, Running Back and Tight End, and Offensive and Defensive Line cross referenced with about a billion mock drafts.
Yours truly claims ZERO ability to predict who the Steelers will pick nor do we claim any corner on who the Steelers should pick.
They do not show college football games in Buenos Aires, where Steel Curtain Rising is written out of, and truth be told, I didn’t follow the college game closely when I did live in the US.
But I do follow the Steelers closely, and here I have prepared a draft need matrix.
Steelers First Tier Draft Needs
The first, most important tier contains in order of priority corner back, offensive line, and defensive line.
This is to say that when the Steelers turn comes to pick at number 31, the Steelers should take the best available athlete who falls into one of the three position groups.
That is easy to say. However, Ike Taylor is a free agent when the CBA mess is resolved, and the Steelers, if you believe the Tribune-Review’s John Harris (which sometimes is a dubious proposition), are all but certain to lose Taylor.
That puts defensive back, specifically corner back, ahead of the two lines. Consensus is that there are only two first round-quality corners, and that both will be gone by the 31st pick. Reaching is always dangerous, but Kevin Colbert has never been shy about trading up, and there are both reasons why Colbert should and should not consider trading up in the 2011 draft.
The free agent status of Willie Colon and the age of Flozell Adams shift the offensive line into “first among equals” over the defensive line.
Steelers Second Tier Draft Needs
The second tier of the Steelers draft needs is also pretty straight forward: safety, wide receiver, running back, and linebacker.
While the Steelers starting safeties are perhaps the class of the league, Ryan Clark is 32 and Troy Polamalu, God love him, cannot stay healthy. The Steelers must keep an eye out for a top safety.
The Steelers are strong at wide receiver and running back, but they need to bolster their bull pens given Hines Ward's advancing age and that Mike Tomlin shows no inhibition about “running Rashard Mendenhall until the wheels come off.”
After that, the Steelers should look to add depth to their linebacking corps., and following that, the Steelers need to look to groom potential behind James Harrison, James Farrior, and LaMarr Woodley.
Steelers Third Tier Draft Needs
Tight end should be considered the third tier of the Steelers draft needs.
The Steelers have the deepest quarterback corps in the NFL, and they should forgo any urge to follow their often held custom of drafting a quarterback in the 5th round.
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