godlovetheredman14 with the pick...
The 2009 NFL season had plenty of ups and downs for the then reigning Super Bowl Champions. Some might attribute it to the "Super Bowl hangover," but the truth of the matter is success for the Steelers is defined by the health of their defense. Rolling into week 10 the Steelers were 6-2 with wins over the San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, and Minnesota Vikings. Despite the fact they were off to a great start, the Steelers were about to take a hard left turn into a brick wall due to a torn PCL.
The injury to Troy Polamalu could not have happened at a better time, if there is ever a good time for an injury to a player of his caliber, when considering the Steelers opponents in weeks 10-14. Sure division rival Cincinnati was 6-2 and didn't appear to be slowing down coming in to week 10, but they followed up a tough game with what appeared was going to be a welcomed midseason "break" in competition and I'm not talking about the bye week. A visit from the 5-11 Oakland Al Davis' in week 13 would be surrounded by trips to the 4-12 Kansas City Chiefs, 9-7 Baltimore Ravens, and the 4-12 Cleveland Browns. The reigning champs seemed to be set up for a smooth ride towards another playoff berth.
The 5 week train derailment that ensued was epic.
First, a respectable loss to the Bengals had fans down but definitely not out. The severity of the Steelers downfall was about to become more evident when they took the field against the dangerous Kansas City Chiefs (hardly but I'm writing this article so if you disagree you can suck it). From the opening kickoff, the Chiefs scratched, scraped and clawed their way to their most satisfying victory in years. It was official in Pittsburgh. The sky was falling. Hail switched to torrential downpours and intense flooding following a 20-17 defeat handed down by the Ravens. Fans were still managing to tread water though, while Mike Tomlin sat in his canoe shaking his head in bewilderment. This downward spiral was starting to affect even the most diehard fans but nothing could have prepared them for what happened next. Al Davis rode into town on his motorized wheelchair and proceeded to crush the dreams of people outside the bay area. This was thought by many to be an impossible feat. The 20-17 Raider victory all but crushed the Steelers hopes for a playoff berth and many fans sank deep into the flood waters to let this abysmal season die and become a faint memory.
If Steeler fans had anything to look forward to in 2009 after losing to the crypt keeper himself, it was the chance to destroy the Cleveland Browns on their home turf. These two cities hate each other. If there were ever going to be another civil war I'm 90% sure it would begin with the Burgh and C-Town taking care of business after a regular season tie. If one team can't finish the job on the field, the fans will finish it in the parking lot. Luckily for the future of America, the Browns showed up to make sure the fire and brimstone stayed 135 miles to their southeast and Steeler nation crumbled before our eyes.
When the dust settled and the 2009 regular season had come to an end, Steeler fans everywhere probably thought the temperature was mild in hell. Three straight wins against teams whose combined record was 27-21 is what spoiled Steeler fans have grown accustomed to. Not outstanding, but considering they went 0-5 during a five week stretch against teams sporting a combined 33-47 record, it surely aided in the flood waters receding.
If anything came from the mid-late season collapse it was the realization that the defense lacked depth in a bad way. Despite the fact they fielded a top ten offense (7th) and defense (5th), their off season needs were written in stone following the injury to Polamalu. The defense allowed 17.4 points per game with Polamalu on the game day roster and 23.9 after he tore his PCL. That's just under a touchdown a game. To put that in perspective Chiefs fan, add a touchdown a game to the 2009 season and the Chiefs go 8-8. This is what Polamalu brings to the table (and what Eric Berry could bring to the Chiefs. Shout out to the AP Eric Berry fan club). Safety isn't a dire need and depth issues will probably be handled in the later rounds, but if an Earl Thomas or, more realistically, Taylor Mays is available don't be surprised if they snatch him off the board and don't look back.
Football is a team sport, however, and all of the blame can't fall on one position.
The loss of ILB Larry Foote prior to the '09 season left a leader sized-hole on the field and in the locker room. They have brought him back in for another stint in Steel town to jack up the excitement level and keep the defense in tune with the ferocity that is required to win in the NFL. Still, they aren't satisfied with the current personnel at the position and they shouldn't be.
Defensive captain James Farrior is no slouch but his age, 35, is becoming a serious concern for Dick LeBeau. It's never too early to start grooming a replacement for Farrior who could eventually take over as the defensive captain and an emotional leader.
Look for this to be one of their main focuses in the draft. They need someone who won't miss an assignment and will be an integral part of the run defense. This will allow Lawrence Timmons, who finally stepped up his game and could potentially be solidifying his place among the NFL elite in the upcoming seasons, to become the playmaker the Steelers need him to be.
There is only one linebacker the Steelers would consider letting take over their defense and that man is Rolando McClain. Many think he'll be off the board by the time the Steelers selection finally arrives but the recent diagnosis of Chrohn's disease may have him falling down draft boards. If the right number of teams are scared off, the Steelers could steal him with the 18th pick in the draft. Don't get confused and think he is the only ILB they will be entertaining, but he may be the only one they see fit for their first round pick.
Another defensive position the Steelers will attempt to upgrade in this year's draft, and arguably their largest need, is cornerback. William Gay tried his best to fill in for the departed Bryant McFadden but in doing so he solidified his place as a career back up. With two nameless backups behind him (I won't name them because it truly doesn't matter), they are going to have to do something to right this wrong. They'll need to get lucky for one of the premier CBs in the draft to fall to #18. The Steelers won't pass on a Joe Haden (possibly Kyle Wilson) in the first round of this year's draft but there is plenty of talent at the position to be had in rounds 2-3.
Finally to cap off the defensive woes, there needs to be an injection of youth at NT. The Steelers recent resigning of Casey Hampton has put them in a great spot. A 3-4 NT is one of the most demanding jobs in the NFL. If the Steelers truly feel like locking up the future of the position, Hampton is 32 years old, they may do it this year with Dan Williams or Terrence Cody, both deserving of the praise they receive. The Steeler faithful think it is highly unlikely they would burn a high draft choice on a player who will not start for two years, but when considering how hard it is to fill this position with a game changer, the selection makes sense to me.
Let's move over to the offensive side of the ball and take a look the offensive line. A large amount of Steeler fans feel like the offensive line is due for an upgrade or two. Even though four starters are returning, I still agree with the fans. Ben Roethlisberger was tied with Aaron Rodgers for the NFL's "sacked" leader. Each QB was sacked 50 times in 2009.
Yes AP. I know he holds the ball forever and a day, just like our main man Matt Cassel, but 50 sacks is 50 sacks.
The main problem was under achieving. With a solid line in 2008 the Steelers thought they were set going into last season. They found out otherwise. I'm not sure whether replacing dismissed OL coach Larry Zierlein with Sean Kugler immediately following the season means a complete overhaul on the offensive front is imminent, or if they are going to make a few small moves and let Kugler earn his pay check. One thing I do know is there is large amount of talent coming out of this year's draft on the OL. The Steelers will take a versatile lineman that can play anywhere when called upon if/when they select a lineman. My guess is Anthony Davis or Mike Iupati if they do decide to beef up the front line in the first round.
Okay AP...I've kept you in suspense long enough. Let's talk about Big Ben's sexual addic...wait that was Tiger. Ummmmm...OH! That's right, he's the rapist (alleged). Either way, look for Pittsburgh to draft a quarterback this year. Could they get crazy and do something in the first or second round? Ya. They could. Will they? Hell no. As of right now he will be the starting QB for the Steelers for years to come (unless he keeps trying to scramble against the Chiefs. That would cause too much concern for the concussion committee). But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen. If they get the chance, look for the Steelers to stay true to their recent history and take Dan LeFevour in the 3rd or 4th round. Now I'm not sure what they teaching student athletes in the MAC, but getting two NFL caliber quarterbacks from the same conference who like to physically abuse women (allegedly) is highly unlikely. He has the size and the skills, he just needs some time to learn the pro system and by my count he has about two years before Ben Roethlisdoucher has to report for prison. Since I really wanted nothing more than to bash that enormous D-BAG for a few minutes let's move on to the pick.
With the 18th pick of the 2010 draft, The Pittsburgh Steelers select...
Kyle Wilson, CB Boise State
William Gay made it very clear that he was not going to be able to hold up his end of the bargain when the Steelers gave him a shot at the starting job last year. Teams exposed Gay and picked on him all season long. Though there are plenty of places of need and many may think that Kyle Wilson is a stretch at 18, his performance during Senior Bowl week and 2nd team All American status are enough in my book to take a shot on him. I debated whether or not O-line is the right pick or not, but I have my sights locked in on a few for the second round that could contribute immediately.
Side note: It literally took 8 mock drafts when researching to find one that had selected the same guy. This pick is all over the place.
Sorry about the long post. My second round pick analysis will be a lot shorter.