DENVER, CO - JANUARY 08: Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers gets sacked during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Denver Broncos defeated the the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime 23 - 29. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
In this second of four post draft views of the AFC North, the featured team is the Pittsburgh Steelers Take a look at how they fared this offseason and how their pre-Training Camp roster is shaping up.
In 2011 the Steelers finished 2nd in the division with a 12-4 record. The Broncos ended their Super Bowl aspirations 23-29 in the Wild Card game last year. They began Free Agency $23 million over the salary cap, so some vetting was expected.
WR Arnaz Battle, LB James Farrior, OG Chris Kemoeatu, CB Bryant McFadden, DE Aaron Smith (failed physical), WR Hines Ward were all released to clear Salary space. NT Chris Hoke and Hines Ward retired. OT Jamon Meredith wasn't tendered as an RFA and the Buccaneers picked him up. CB William Gay signed with the Cardinals.
QB Charlie Batch, WR Jerricho Cotchery, OL Trai Essex, OG Ramon Foster, FB David Johnson, P Jeremy Kapinos, OG Doug Legursky, QB Byron Leftwich, CB Keenan Lewis, NT Steve McLendon, S Ryan Mundy and RB Isaac Redman.
Restricted Free Agents
WR Mike Wallace (tendered at $2.742M with first-round pick as compensation) is their most important concern in Free Agency. Unfortunately, he wants top-5 money.
TE Leonard Pope signed a 1-year deal to leave the Chiefs.QB Troy Smith and WR Derrick Williams joined the Steelers too.
Team Needs Going Into the Draft
The Steelers need Linemen most of all. Specifically an Offensive Guard and a Nose Tackle. After that, an Offensive Tackle, Cornerback and Inside Linebacker. Although the team likes Wideouts Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders in complementary roles, a late round Wide Receiver should be on the menu as well.
|2nd||56||Mike Adams||OT||6-8||320||Ohio St.|
|3rd||86||Sean Spence||OLB||6-0||224||Miami (Fla)|
|7th||246||Terremce Frederick||CB||5-10||184||Texas A&M|
They got the best Guard in the draft in David DeCastro, and a Tackle in the 2nd round who had a 1st-round grade in Mike Adams. DeCastro will start at Right Guard and Adams will play the swing Tackle and push for a starting job.
Then after finding Lawrence Timmons backup in Sean Spence, the Steelers traded their 6th-rounder to move up in the 4th round to nab Alameda Ta'Amu, the purest 3-4 nose tackle available. They are hoping Alameda can eventually succeed Casey Hampton.
With Rashard Mendenhall’s 2012 availability in doubt by ACL surgery, Pittsburgh took Running Back Chris Rainey in the 5th round. Rainey’s 4.37 speed and versatility could make him a wild-card offensive threat, but he seems awful light for a Steeler Running Back..
In the 7th round, Pittsburgh ended up with 3 Compensatory picks as well as their own pick. The selected Wide Receiver Toney Clemons out of Colorado, a big and fast late bloomer who has a chance for the #5 Wide out on the team.
Tight End David Paulson from Oregon, is a versatile receiver/blocker at point, slot and out of the backfield. If he makes the team, Paulson could help new Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley expand the playbook.
Cornerback Terrence Frederick from Texas A&M might make the squad as a Nickel back and Guard Kelvin Beachum out of Southern Methodist will make the team if he shos he can play.
Georgia P Drew Butler; Louisiana Tech CB Terry Carter; Duquesne WR Connor Dixon; Arizona DB Robert Golden; Southern Connecticut St. DE Ikponmwosa Igbinosun; Furman OL Ryan Lee; Pitt LB Brandon Lindsey; Alabama WR Marquis Maze; Missouri K Grant Ressel; Temple LB Adrian Robinson; Rutgers OL Desmond Stapleton; Yale DE Jake Stoller
Again, no surprises here. You are looking at Practice Squad competition.
Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert certainly filled plenty of needs in this draft. He followed their shopping list and brought home the beef. Not only that, but in the order of priority. I’d say Colbert’s job is safe with a grade A draft.
The Broncos will face the Steelers at home in the season opening Sunday night game on NBC. Pittsburgh will get a chance to avenge their early playoff exit, but the Broncos have Peyton Freaking Manning and they will be ready.
This post was running long, so I decided to break it in half. Stay tuned for Part 2, where the Bengals and Browns will be covered.
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