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2011 NFL Offseason: Pittsburgh Steelers

Draft Grades, Season Previews, Offseason Needs, Free Agents



Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Year: 12-4) - Buy Tickets

2011 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
TE John Gilmore.
Early Draft Picks:
DE/DT Cameron Heyward, OT Marcus Gilbert, CB Curtis Brown, CB Cortez Allen, DE/OLB Chris Carter.
Offseason Losses:
WR/KR Antwaan Randle El, TE Matt Spaeth, OT Max Starks, OT Flozell Adams, DE/DT Nick Eason.

2011 Pittsburgh Steelers Offense:
Ben Roethlisberger is going to get killed one of these days. Not literally killed, obviously, but his offensive line has done a great disservice to the longevity of his career. Roethlisberger has taken 274 sacks in his 7-year Steelers tenure thus far, which is really saying something because he's escaped many more sacks with his great pocket elusiveness.

Roethlisberger was sacked 41 times in 2010, and the offensive line as a whole surrendered 52, tied for second in the NFL behind only Chicago (60). Unfortunately, that number probably won't improve this season.

Left tackle Max Starks, who missed half the year with a neck injury, showed up training camp close to 400 pounds and was subsequently cut. Jonathan Scott, guilty of 11 penalties and six sacks in 2010, will start in Starks' place again. On the other side, right tackle Willie Colon was retained for a 5-year, $29 million contract. Colon is one of the top players at his position when healthy, but that's not the case because he's coming off a torn Achilles. Colon could struggle at the beginning of the year, though an Achilles isn't as big a deal for linemen, so he could be close to 100 percent come playoff time.

The interior of Pittsburgh's front isn't any better. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey is great, but the two guards are a huge liability. Ramon Foster surrendered seven sacks in 2010, which is a ridiculous amount for someone at his position. Chris Kemoeatu, meanwhile, has been on the active/PUP list because of arthritis and bone fragments in his knee. Look for tight end Heath Miller to help frequently.

Roethlisberger's long-term health is a huge concern, but he'll continue to thrive in the present. Big Ben will use his trademark pocket awareness to once again elude would-be sacks and find his receivers downfield. With Hines Ward aging and turning into a reality TV star like Chad Ochocinco, Mike Wallace is Big Ben's clear-cut No. 1 wideout. Wallace generated 1,257 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on just 60 receptions in his second NFL season, maintaining a ridiculous 21.0 yards-per-catch average. Wallace's ridiculous speed makes him extremely difficult to cover, as opposing defenses discovered last year.

With Ward losing interest in football, a new No. 2 target could be Emmanuel Sanders, who made some noise at the end of the 2010 campaign when he caught seven balls for 78 yards against the Jets. Sanders is coming off foot surgery, unfortunately, and may take a while to pass Ward.

If Roethlisberger didn't have a strong rushing attack to lean on, he'd be in even more trouble. Rashard Mendenhall is very ignorant in some aspects of life, but he's a hell of a running back. He rushed for 1,274 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. His YPC was down from 4.6 in 2009 to 3.9 in 2010, but Colon's return should help raise that average.



2011 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense:
Though the Steelers can't stop defenses from sacking Ben Roethlisberger, their defense can at least generate a great pass rush of its own. Pittsburgh finished second in sacks last year with 56, falling one short of Green Bay's 57.

It'll be interesting to see if the Steelers can come close to matching that figure in 2011. It'll be a challenge because rush linebacker James Harrison is a 33-year-old coming off two back surgeries. Back problems tend to linger, and Harrison is getting up there in age. A severe decline is possible, so his running mate LaMarr Woodley will have to pick up the slack. Woodley notched 10 sacks last season, earning himself a well-deserved 6-year, $61.5 million contract.

If Harrison struggles across from Woodley, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau may not hesitate to use second-year Jason Worilds more often. Pittsburgh's coaching staff is very high on Worilds, who possesses tremendous upside.

The interior of Pittsburgh's linebacking corps faces a similar situation to the Woodley-Harrison dynamic. One player is young and at the top of his game; Lawrence Timmons is an elite inside linebacker. The other is an aging veteran coming off a great year but could be due for a big decline. James Farrior had a Pro Bowl-caliber campaign, but turns 37 in January.

The rest of the Steelers' front seven is loaded. The starting ends are reliable veterans Aaron Smith and Brett Kiesel, but Pittsburgh has a pair of first-rounders, Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward, waiting in the wings. Nose tackle Casey Hampton is not the player he once was, but he can still stuff the run somewhat effectively for two downs.

It seems like the Steelers have needed cornerback help for years, and that's the case yet again despite the fact that they re-signed Ike Taylor to a 4-year deal. Taylor is talented but inconsistent, though he's much better than Bryant McFadden, who allowed six touchdowns and a completion percentage of 67.5 in 2010. It'd be great if one of the young corners could step up, but Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen are two rookies handicapped by a brief offseason, while Keenan Lewis has been a huge disappointment in his two-year pro career.

Pittsburgh's pass defense rests on Troy Polamalu's shoulders, or rather his Achilles. Polamalu was having a great 2010 campaign until he suffered an injury there, and then went on to struggle mightily in the playoffs. Polamalu reportedly hasn't been 100 percent at training camp, which isn't a surprise. If Polamalu plays poorly, it'll also affect free safety Ryan Clark, who was abysmal in the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl.



2011 Pittsburgh Steelers Schedule and Intangibles:
Excluding New England, no one in the AFC has a better road record than Pittsburgh since 1996; the Steelers are 66-54 as visitors in that time frame. They're not bad at home either (87-36-1).

The Steelers' special teams were brutal in 2009, allowing four special-teams scores. The team gave up only one in 2010, while Antonio Brown took a kickoff return to the house. They were really bad on punt returns though.

Pittsburgh canned Jeff "Jersey Shore" Reed, replacing him with Shaun Suisham, who hit 14-of-15 attempts, including 8-of-9 from 40-49. He didn't try a 50-yarder, but maybe that's a good thing because he's 3-of-8 from that distance in his career.

Daniel Sepulveda has three ACL tears in his professional career, but the Steelers re-signed him, so they must think his knees can hold up. Sepulveda is a good punter when healthy.

The Steelers have a really easy schedule for a first-place team. Cupcake foes include Seattle, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Arizona, Kansas City, San Francisco, and of course, Cincinnati twice.



2011 Pittsburgh Steelers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):

Quarterbacks
Offensive Line
Secondary
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams
Receivers
Linebackers
Coaching


2011 Pittsburgh Steelers Analysis: The Steelers have the talent, depth and easy schedule to make another trip to the Super Bowl. It's only a question of motivation. Super Bowl losers have fared extremely poorly the following year during the past decade. Even the Colts, who won a Lombardi before, barely beat out a mediocre Jaguars team for the AFC South title in 2010.

Pittsburgh will almost certainly make the playoffs, but making it all the way to Indianapolis will be more challenging than it was last year, especially if Troy Polamalu isn't healthy.

Projection: 12-4 (1st in AFC North)


2011 Fantasy Football Rankings


More 2011 NFL Season Previews

*** 2011 NFL DRAFT GRADES, OFFSEASON NEEDS BELOW COMMENT BOARD ***


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patsfaninpittsburgh 04-29-2013 04:28 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.114 (total posts: 2)
6     206

No doubt Wheaton was a "consensus" 2nd rounder.

That's why every team passed on him!!!

Is this a "Let the idiot grade the draft" exercise?
patsfaninpittsburgh 04-29-2013 04:25 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.114 (total posts: 2)
7     309

It's so obvious Wheaton was a consensus 2nd rounder.

That's so obvious because every team passed on the guy in the 2nd round.

Where did this site find this idiot to "grade" any team's draft?
Derrrrrrrrrr 04-29-2013 04:16 pm xxx.xxx.xxx3.10 (total posts: 5)
19     6

Ummm yes, getting back in the 4th for next year's 3rd was a good deal. The Steelers will almost definitely get a 3rd round comp for Mike Wallace. They will also get comps for Mendenhall, Lewis, Harrison, etc. Losing a pick in next year's draft to acquire a safety they really liked is a smart move. With all of the comp picks, they will have close to 10 picks next year.
csszrr 04-29-2013 02:13 am xxx.xxx.xxx.127 (total posts: 1)
16     68

Always blowing the stillers. A 4th for a 3rd?! Yea brilliant. This is the same guy who loved Clausen and called Cam bloated. Love that you keep the proof up.
AJMadness 04-29-2013 12:12 am xxx.xxx.xxx.165 (total posts: 1)
15     43

Only complaint is the Jones pick, Wish we would have taken John Simon with that one.
John21 04-28-2013 11:54 pm xxx.xxx.xxx5.51 (total posts: 2)
10     7

I am in agreement with your assessment. Landry was not a good value at 115-period. We could have chosen an true contributor! Brown was a bizarre pick! Wasnt even in Top 400 at Draft tek! Bell was a reach big time but hope he proves me wrong. Other picks were solid. Like Wheaton! Disapptd no punter late or as UDFA??
mikeyd33 04-28-2013 11:00 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.213 (total posts: 1)
9     7

I've seen alot of negative comments about this draft for the steelers. Steeler nation should be excited for next year. Everyone of these picks make sense and fills a huge need. It doesn't matter what round they got these guys in,they snagged the ones they were targeting all along. Great job by the gm and coaches. Now hopefully these rookies can stay healthy and produce their first year.Watching the highlight tapes on these guys gives me chills I'M PUMPED for next year already.
haha 04-28-2013 07:46 pm xxx.xxx.xxx6.37 (total posts: 2)
8     8

@@Mike

I promise you, that you had no idea who Leveon Bell was before the season started, and even if you did I bet you had no idea he'd be a 2nd to 3rd round pick. Same with Vince Williams. He was never in these mock drafts until I wrote something about him. And then magically he appeared in the 3rd or 4th round here. Don't be upset I follow NFL prospects.

And by the way this site writes about Bell, they obviously don't like him one bit. Only time will tell I guess.
Dennis Green 04-28-2013 02:47 pm xxx.xxx.xxx51.5 (total posts: 4)
3     3

For the first time in a while Pittsburgh entered this draft needing to fill a lot of needs and a lot of depth and they responded by addressing their most vital needs with very productive players lot of which came with great value
@Mike 04-28-2013 11:40 am xxx.xxx.xxx6.85 (total posts: 2)
104     76

yeah...thanks for opening our eyes to le'veon bell. Surely no one knew who he was before you educated us.
@longtimerou 04-28-2013 09:42 am xxx.xxx.xxx1.97 (total posts: 2)
9     52

Thank you so, so SO much for sticking around and trolling throughout THE ENTIRE DRAFT! I can't tell you how glad I am that you repeatedly exposed your jealousy and insecurity. As sad as I am for your life (seriously guy...get one), I am delighted that you complimented my team so well by wasting precious time trying to upset Steelers fans. Congratulations! You flopped spectacularly! BTW, nice coward job in refusing to reply to anyone. In your own words: pitiful, just pitiful.

So how long have the Steelers been living rent-free inside your head?

LOL
just a fan 04-28-2013 07:54 am xxx.xxx.xxx.132 (total posts: 2)
5     3

"Cap"....It shows that you must not know how the draft VALUE works. Buffalo's pick at QB was not a value pick. He was the 4th rated QB on most draft boards. He was listed by most as a 2nd rounder {and as this draft fell with QB's, a 3rd rounder.)
Taking him that high in the 1'st is just a bonehead pick. Doesn't mean he sucks or can't play. A few years ago Oakland had (by many accounts) a super VALUE pick; And where is Russel now?

Buffalo had more needs with better value picks available and their QB would have still been there by the 2;nd round.
The best play would be to trade their pick down several times and pick up more picks (as New England did a few years ago). They still get the Qb they want but also VALUE for the pick.
Mike 04-28-2013 02:48 am xxx.xxx.xxx6.37 (total posts: 2)
124     147

I opened this sites' eyes to both Leveon Bell and Vince Williams, and Steelers go and snag them both. Great picks. Leveon Bell played at 242 lbs last year, so watching his tape won't do him justice. I think he'll play at 225, and will definitely look much quicker than he did in college. He's a great kid and a hard worker, guarantee he's a solid pro. And my boy Vince, that guy is a pure football player. All he does is want to hit people. I wish I was a Steelers fan, they did a great job.
Dan 04-28-2013 01:28 am xxx.xxx.xxx.134 (total posts: 1)
29     6

I can't imagine a better draft for the Steelers. Jarvis will be a multiple All-Pro player, Bell will be the next Jerome Bettis, Wheaton will be the next Hines Ward. Love, love, love this draft
steel 04-27-2013 08:02 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.157 (total posts: 8)
2     13

having trobenow inding the final list of pre draft visits whih i think included landry jones..however with an earier list i already see that 5 of nine picks (not including jones) are on the ist, steelers usually take about 3-4 on their list..jarvis jones,leveon bell,shamarko thomas,justin brown, and vince williams are on their predraft isit list...just sayin.steelers really do follow their list, not just a smoke screeen, but the early picks are sometmes..





2011 NFL Draft Grades:

No one should be surprised that the Steelers just had a brilliant draft. There's a reason why they contend for the Super Bowl every year.

Two areas Pittsburgh needed to address were the offensive line and defensive backfield. Kevin Colbert found upgrades for both fairly early with solid value selections. Meanwhile, Cameron Heyward and Ziggy Hood figure to be a formidable duo on the defensive front for years to come.

While many teams spent Draft Weekend trading up like crazy, and using countless selections on dime-a-dozen running backs and blocking tight ends, the Steelers just patiently waited each round and plucked one of the top talents off the board.

Overall 2011 NFL Draft Grade given on 5/1/11: A+



2011 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

31. Cameron Heyward, DE/DT, Ohio State
This is a typical Steelers pick. They're bolstering their defense with one of the top players available. He doesn't fill an immediate need, but will definitely be starting for the team in a year or two. (Pick Grade: B)

63. Marcus Gilbert, OT, Florida
The Steelers almost had to make this pick. They need to protect Ben Roethlisberger. Marcus Gilbert fits their blocking scheme, and he's arguably one of the top tackles available. (Pick Grade: B)

95. Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
I had Curtis Brown to the Steelers in the second round of my mock re-draft, so I love this pick. Brown provides tremendous value and fills a huge need for them. He's also a great fit for Mike Tomlin's defensive scheme. That's why the Steelers were very interested in Brown this offseason. (Pick Grade: A)

128. Cortez Allen, CB, The Citadel
Another solid cornerback selection for the Steelers. Cortez Allen fits the range at the bottom of the Round 4, and he figures to improve the secondary sometime in the near future. (Pick Grade: B)

162. Chris Carter, DE/OLB, Fresno State
Kevin Colbert continues to dominate the 2011 NFL Draft. Chris Carter could have gone as high as the bottom of the second round, so this is a major steal. Carter won't contribute right away, but he could step in once James Harrison moves on. (Pick Grade: A)

196. Keith Williams, G, Nebraska
Another quality pick. The Steelers have to keep adding solid offensive linemen to the roster, and Keith Williams fits the range. (Pick Grade: B)

232. Baron Batch, RB, Texas Tech
The Steelers were expected to find a change-of-pace back behind Rashard Mendenhall. Baron Batch qualifies, but there were better prospects available. (Pick Grade: C)





Season Summary:
I was really high on the Steelers prior to this season - until Ben Roethlisberger's sexual assault charge. I bumped Pittsburgh out of Super Bowl (and playoff) consideration because I didn't know how Roethlisberger would respond. Well, give Big Ben credit. Despite the distraction and subsequent suspension, he led his team to its third Super Bowl appearance in six years.




Offseason Moves:
  • Steelers sign WR Jerricho Cotchery
  • Steelers re-sign DE/OLB LaMarr Woodley
  • Steelers sign TE John Gilmore
  • Steelers re-sign NT Chris Hoke
  • Steelers re-sign RB Mewelde Moore
  • Steelers re-sign CB William Gay
  • Steelers re-sign P Daniel Sepulveda
  • Steelers cut OT Flozell Adams
  • Steelers re-sign OT Willie Colon
  • Cardinals sign DE/DT Nick Eason
  • Steelers re-sign OT Jonathan Scott
  • Bears sign TE Matt Spaeth
  • Steelers cut WR/PR Antwaan Randle El
  • Steelers cut OT Max Starks
  • Steelers sign K Shaun Suisham
  • Steelers re-sign CB Ike Taylor
  • Steelers sign TE Weslye Saunders
  • Steelers tender QB Dennis Dixon
  • Steelers tender OT Tony Hills
  • Steelers franchise DE/OLB LaMarr Woodley


    Offseason Needs:
    1. Right Guard: Pittsburgh needs to protect Ben Roethlisberger. If he keeps getting hit like this, he won't last much longer. Mike Pouncey could be the pick at the bottom of the first round in the 2011 NFL Draft. He'd look great next to his brother, Maurkice. Drafted Keith Williams

    2. Offensive Tackle: Max Starks has been cut. Willie Colon is a free agent. The Steelers might spend their first-round pick this April on someone like Gabe Carimi or Derek Sherrod. Re-signed Willie Colon; drafted Marcus Gilbert

    3. Cornerback: I think Steeler fans have seen enough of Bryant McFadden. The team's second-round selection could be used to address this position. Re-signed Ike Taylor; drafted Curis Brown and Cortez Allen

    4. Nose Tackle: Casey Hampton turns 34 in September. A successor could be found in Rounds 3-5.

    5. Inside Linebacker: James Farrior just had a great year, but he turned 36 in January. He won't last much longer, so a Round 3-5 selection could be used as a future replacement.

    6. Punter: Free agent Daniel Sepulveda just had his third knee surgery. Re-signed Daniel Sepulveda








    2011 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets. Age: 29.
      Signed with Steelers (1 year)

      Jerricho Cotchery is a very good slot receiver when healthy. The problem is that he's coming off back surgery. He's reportedly healthy, but back injuries tend to linger and re-surface. Cotchery is a risk.

    2. Weslye Saunders, TE, South Carolina. Age: 22. -- Signed with Steelers
    3. John Gilmore, TE, Buccaneers. Age: 31. -- Signed with Steelers



    Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: No cap.
    1. LaMarr Woodley, DE/OLB, Steelers. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Steelers (6 years, $61.5 million)

      One of the top pass-rushers in the NFL, LaMarr Woodley has 35 sacks in the past three years.

    2. Willie Colon, OT, Steelers. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with Steelers (5 years, $29 million)

      Willie Colon missed the entire 2010 season with a torn Achilles, but his recovery apparently has gone pretty well. Colon is an outstanding, Pro Bowl-caliber right tackle, so Ben Roethlisberger would love to have him back.

    3. Ike Taylor, CB, Steelers. Age: 31.
      Re-signed with Steelers (4 years)

      Ike Taylor had a poor 2009 season, but did a great job bouncing back this year. Taylor surrendered only one touchdown in 2010.

    4. Max Starks, OT, Steelers. Age: 29.
      Max Starks is a starting-quality left tackle. Well, he was before he ballooned up to 400 pounds. Starks lost his job because he wasn't able to work out after suffering a neck injury.

    5. Daniel Sepulveda, P, Steelers. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Steelers

      Daniel Sepulveda averaged 45.5 yards per punt, but tore his right ACL for the third time in December.

    6. Flozell Adams, OT, Steelers. Age: 36.
    7. William Gay, CB, Steelers. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Steelers (1 year)
    8. Jonathan Scott, OT, Steelers. Age: 28. -- Re-signed with Steelers
    9. Nick Eason, DE/DT, Steelers. Age: 31. -- Signed with Cardinals (2 years)
    10. Chris Hoke, NT, Steelers. Age: 35. -- Re-signed with Steelers
    11. Matt Spaeth, TE, Steelers. Age: 26. -- Signed with Bears
    12. Ryan Mundy, S, Steelers. Age: 26.
    13. Dennis Dixon (RFA), QB, Steelers. Age: 26. -- Tendered by Steelers
    14. Trai Essex, G, Steelers. Age: 28.
    15. Doug Legursky, G, Steelers. Age: 25.
    16. Mewelde Moore, RB, Steelers. Age: 29. -- Re-signed with Steelers
    17. Anthony Madison, CB, Steelers. Age: 29.
    18. Tony Hills (RFA), OT, Steelers. Age: 26. -- Tendered by Steelers
    19. Antwaan Randle El, WR/KR, Steelers. Age: 32.
    20. Keyaron Fox, ILB, Steelers. Age: 29.
    21. Jeremy Kapinos (RFA), P, Steelers. Age: 27.


    2011 NFL Free Agent Rankings

    2011 NFL Free Agent Rankings Coming Soon



    Divisional Rival History:
    Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco is 0-6 against Ben Roethlisberger.
    Cincinnati Bengals: The road team has inexplicably claimed eight of the past 11 meetings. Go figure.
    Cleveland Browns: Pittsburgh has won 20 of 21 against Cleveland.



    Features to be Posted This Offseason:
    1. 2011 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)
    2. Detailed season preview
    3. Fantasy football projections
    4. Positional rankings
    5. Daily updates on free-agent signings


    More 2011 NFL Offseason Pages:

    DAL / NYG / PHI / WAS /
    CHI / DET / GB / MIN /
    ATL / CAR / NO / TB /
    ARZ / SEA / SF / STL /
    BUF / MIA / NE / NYJ /
    BAL / CIN / CLE / PIT /
    HOU / IND / JAX / TEN /
    DEN / KC / OAK / SD /




    2011 NFL Offseason Pages


    Fantasy Football Rankings - July 28


    2016 NFL Mock Draft - July 24


    2015 NFL Mock Draft - July 23


    2015 NBA Mock Draft - July 1


    NFL Free Agents


    NFL Picks - Feb. 2



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