´ Steel Curtain Rising: Steelers Draft Needs: Longing for More of the Linebacker Legacy

What position(s) should be the Steelers highest priorities in the draft?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Steelers Draft Needs: Longing for More of the Linebacker Legacy


The Pittsburgh Steelers are a franchise which yields nothing to anyone with it comes to its Linebacker Legacy. While the original Steel Curtain provided the heart of the Super Steelers defense, linebackers Andy Russell, Jack Ham and Jack Lambert provided the unit’s mind and soul.
  • Russell and Ham knew enough to shut down opponents plays before the snap count started. Lambert simply brought attitude.
And the tradition has been handed down from generation to generation. From Greg Lloyd and Levon Kirkland to Joey Porter and James Farrior to James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons.

If the Steelers are to continue linebacker legacy they must do so in the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Steelers will begin 2013 with:
  • One outside linebacker whose last two seasons have been ruined by injury (LaMarr Woodley)
  • Another outside linebacker who is a big question mark (Jason Worilds)
  • An aging inside linebacker who still has something left, but whose time is fading (Larry Foote)
  • Another inside linebacker who can’t seem to string to strong seasons together (Timmons)
Worse yet, the Steelers have Adrian Robinson and Chris Carter behind them and neither of whom has proven anything and Stevenson Sylvester whom the Steelers did not think enough of to protect in Restricted Free Agency. (Marshall McFadden is also in the mix, for whatever that is worth.)

Linebacker Needs have “Got the Steelers Inside and Out” 

Clearly the Steelers have needs at linebacker to fill in the 2013 NFL Draft. But if forced to make a decision, as they likely will, which position takes priority, inside or outside?
  • There is no easy answer here, but in this case a simple methodology based on math might help.
For the purposes of evaluating draft-day needs, the Steelers must assume a worst case scenario for 2012’s third round pick Sean Spence.

But even if you assume that Sean Spence’s NFL career is over before it started, the Steelers still have Stevenson Sylvester. At this point Sylvester isn’t likely to be anything more than a back up, but he has played well on special teams and has three season’s in Dick LeBeau’s defense under his belt.

Add to that fact that Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote are both under contract, although Foote's career has clearly entered the “take it year-by-year” phase.

In contrast on the outside, Jason Worilds is a free agent, and even if Robinson and Carter have more of an upside that Sylvester, they both have less experience.
  • Er go, outside linebacker is a higher draft priority than inside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2013 NFL Draft.
But the Steelers would do well to beef up at both positions.

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