Mike Tomlin is down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl with staffers getting a good long look and interviewing players, so I’m sure he’s going to come out with some solid ideas of who the Steelers should vie for.
Senior Bowl broadcast starts Saturday the 25th at 3:00 with Kickoff at 4:00 on NFL Network.
Positions of Need
Offense – LT – Highest priority has to be to find a quality Left Tackle. The Steelers stuck a band-aid on it last season when the young Mike Adams imploded in the starting position. They shifted the TE to the left on most plays to help the blind side and free Ben up to pass downfield. RT Maurice Gilbert started out horribly but improved greatly as the season progressed. LG Ramon Foster was solid but suffered an injury as did impressive new starter RG David DeCastro. C Maurkice Pouncey was knocked out very early but we found a great sub in Fernando Velasco who also got knocked out with an ACL and then Eric Olsen. I would expect all three to return as Velasco can also play guard and we really need the interior depth.
OG – See above.
WR – We need a solid possession receiver to line up opposite of budding Super Star Antonio Brown. If not through the draft, through free agency.
RB – Le’veon Bell showed some great maturity along with skill and will and I think with the addition of Mike Munchak as OLC we get him on the plus side 4.0 ypc. and give him a break out season. So, we will be looking for that change of pace back. We hoped it would be Baron Batch but he can’t seem to make it out of spring training without a season ending injury
Defense – DL – Brett Keisel only has a couple more seasons in him and I think we have to declare Ziggy Hood a bust. Steve McClendon did a good job and there seems adequate depth there. So we will be looking for a 3-4 defensive end.
LB – In a Steelers brass created crisis we found ourselves sorely missing James Harrison’s speed rush. I wasn’t a Jarvis Jones believer to begin with and he was benched mid season. Jason Worilds is the only left side speed rusher in the league, which puts LaMarr Woodley in a strange position. He will either have to move inside or take his power and leverage game to the right. I think he’s better suited on the right and might not get injured so much from fighting off double teams. So Steelers could go inside or out with a mid round pick.
DB – Cortez Allen emerged as a quality starter but Ike Taylor, Ryan Clark and the irreplaceable Troy Polamalu are nearing the end of their careers. Look for picks at all the defensive backfield positions.
Senior Bowl Players to Watch
OT/OG – Zach Martin, Notre Dame – solid in passing and running but with short reach that will probably push him inside.
C – Bryan Stork FSU – Very solid and smart Center good in both phases of the game.
WR – Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt – 6′-3″ great hands, concentration and routes. Not afraid of catching across the middle, has a great jumping ability and fights for the ball. Not bad speed either. Cousin of Jerry Rice. Looks to go in the 2nd or 3rd Round.
DT/DE – Shede Hageman, Minnesota – 6′-6′ 313#, 465 bench and 36″ vertical leap. A project to groom for DE. Could be something special.
ILB – Christian Kirkesy, Iowa – 97 tackles. Very productive and athletic interior guy possible a plug & play solution.
CB/S – Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma – Is out, unfortunately with an ACL tear during practice week. I feel for him. He’s been very underrated and this would have been a great chance to prove himself.
CB – Jason Verrett, TCU – 14 pbu’s a strong possibility as a 3rd day Nickle prospect.
S – Terrence Brooks, FSU – A smart and hard hitting center fielder in the 3rd to 5th Rounds.
Those are some of the stand outs but the Senior Bowl is all about the Surprises, so it’s great to watch to see who emerges against top competition.