Matt will be reviewing each team's pre-draft analysis by talking about the draft range of targeted players.
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Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Year: 10-6)
Looks like the Cleveland Browns could be the AFC North favorites going into the regular season with all the moves they made in free agency, but can we ever count out the Steelers? Mike Tomlin is one of the best young head coaches in the NFL, and Big Ben Roethlisberger is in the upper echelon of quarterbacks. This team is not without needs; upgrades must be made to defend the North crown. Let's get right to the Steel City's draft range with the 23rd overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft:
Brandon Flowers/Antoine Cason:
No Aqib Talib here with his character concerns, which I don't think Pittsburgh would gamble on. Flowers is the consensus most physical corner in the draft, and a great for the Tampa-2 (assuming Tomlin ever installs it). Cason is also a big leader, but a more well-rounded player than Flowers possessing better ball skills, size, and press man coverage. You simply can't go wrong with either one of these players opposite Ike Taylor.
This is a huge sleeper pick, but Tomlin just might want to bring in the prototypical right defensive end for his Tampa-2 defense.
Mendenhall will be long gone by this pick, and Stewart would be the powerful complement to Willie Parker this offense could feed off of. Plus, you don't have to rush him into the gameplan as a rookie coming off a turf toe injury.
Jeff Otah/Carl Nicks:
These two tackles all fit the big, bulky, powerful lineman type that is the model for the Pittsburgh offensive line. Otah and Nicks can play left or right tackle in this scheme. They would be a big upgrade as rookies and really boost the run blocking early on. In order of preference like I have listed, I think it's Otah, then Nicks. Nicks might be passed on; according to Charlie Casserly he has serious character concerns, but his skill set is tempting for the Steelers.
James Hardy/Limas Sweed:
Big Ben wants a big target right? Hardy is 6-5, but he has work ethic and drive concerns. Tough to pass up on a receiver of that size who runs a sub-4.5 40 and has great hands. Sweed is the prototypical possession receiver, and I think his ability to go over the middle is underrated; he just wasn't asked to do it in Texas' spread scheme.
On to Pittsburgh's range in the second round.
If they don't go with a corner in Round 1, Terrell Thomas and Patrick Lee are great fits in the second round. Both can play zone or man, and I think both have the potential to line up at safety. In terms of late-round corners, Chevis Jackson, Dwight Lowery, and Michael Grant fit this defense, and would come off the board in the fifth to seventh rounds.
Matt Forte, Ray Rice, and Tashard Choice are workhorse backs who, like Stewart, would bring a more powerful element to the offense. Rice has the most upside of the three, while Choice is the most well-rounded player in terms of football IQ and pass protection. Forte reminds me of a slightly more athletic Brandon Jacobs.
Nicks might still be on the board in the second round. His size, athleticism, and versatility would be awfully hard to pass up on. Anthony Collins, John Greco, Kirk Barton, Barry Richardson, and Brandon Keith are in their third to sixth round draft range as offensive tackles are concerned.
If they are looking for a possession receiver in the second round, Sooner Malcolm Kelly's whining, durability issues, and poor Pro Day could still cause him to be on the board with the No. 53 selection. Jordy Nelson, Early Doucet, and Earl Bennett would be impressive second-round draft picks to build around Roethlisberger.
A five-technique might need to be added to the depth of this defensive line. Hampton's Kendall Langford looks like possibly the best of this draft class, and he could be on the board in the fourth round. Jason Jones, Brian Johnson, Marcus Dixon, and Nick Hayden would be solid options in the fourth to sixth rounds also.
Tomlin might want to bring in a free safety who could start immediately. Tyrell Johnson, DaJuan Morgan, Quintin Demps, and Marcus Griffin are the best options in the second to fourth round draft range.
Pittsburgh Steelers 2008 Offseason Needs
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