Every NFL general manager always makes some variation of the above statement going into each draft. This time Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin said it and they meant it. The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the 2014 NFL Draft facing critical needs at defensive line, cornerback, and wide receiver.
- The consensus opinion was that the Steelers would take Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard were he available.
Which at first blush, appeared that the Steelers were covering themselves at outside linebacker in anticipation of being unable to reach a long-term deal with Jason Worilds and/or taking out an insurance policy against Jarvis Jones development.
- Then the news came that the Steelers plan to move Shazier to the inside.
While the Steelers certainly had issues, particularly glaring ones early on, at inside linebacker, the same can be said at corner, defensive line, and to a lesser extent at wide out. But at least at inside linebacker, the Steelers have bodies, in the form of Sean Spence, Terence Garvin and Vince Williams, who struggled mightily but then improved.
- But quantity is one thing, quality is another.
Statistical rankings aside, the last time the Pittsburgh Steelers defense fielded a dominant unit was in 2010. One of the most undrrated players on that team was Lawrence Timmons, who didn’t have the sack totals of James Harrison or LaMarr Woodley, nor the interceptions of Troy Polamalu.
- But Timmons gave that unit something that it badly needed, a force who could play in the middle of the field in coverage and in run support.
- On paper, Ryan Shazier’s speed and explosiveness should give them that edge in the middle that the Steelers have lacked since James Farrior retired.
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