In most cases it’s not all that hard to determine. The teams is pretty set on the interior of the offensive line, and nobody would argue against finding another cornerback.
Probably the hardest position to guess at this point is the inside linebacker position next to Lawrence Timmons.
If you keep up on your draft talk every year, you know that the ILB position is one that many have expected the Steelers to address over the years.
In the 2010 draft many experts expected the Steelers to go after Rolando McClain out of Alabama. That never happened because the Raiders shocked everyone by selecting him in the top 10.
In 2012 there were even stronger indications that the Steelers would select another Alabama product Dont’a Hightower to replace Larry Foote. Rumors are that was the plan until the highly polished David DeCastro fell to the Steelers.
You may recognize a pattern coming here. Now, in the 2014 draft there happens to be a very good ILB prospect out of the University of Alabama name C.J. Mosley that very well could be the best player available at the 15th pick in round 1.
Mosley is tailor-made for today’s pass happy NFL. He possess great athleticism and awareness in pass coverage, but is also big enough to handle the middle against the run game.
Mosley and Timmons would give the Steelers one of the most versatile and athletic duo’s inside in the NFL.
The question is, do the Steelers need him? Assuming the Steelers don’t release Larry Foote, they will have Foote, Vince Williams, and Sean Spence under contract in 2014.
Larry Foote is likely in his last season. He’s a dependable veteran but seriously lacks athleticism.
Vince Williams was drafted in the 6th round last season, and was probably expected to contribute on special teams… if he even made the roster. Williams not only made the team, but started most of their games at ILB.
Williams had a very solid season all things considered, but was often replaced by Troy Polamalu on passing downs. The Steelers “big nickel” package is great to have in your arsenal but it’s not something you want to have to rely on. I love Williams when he’s coming downhill but I wonder if he can ever be a 3 down guy.
Sean Spence was highly drafted (3rd round) in 2012. The story on him out of college was that he was undersized but had the instincts and athleticism of a first rounder. I think most of Steeler nation knows where we are with him.
Spence was close to returning late this season, so I would expect him to be ready to go for training camp. The worry with Spence is that his game heavily relied on his speed… The question now is will he ever look like he did at the U?
It’s definitely a tough position to be in. If you draft a guy like Mosley it’s almost like wasting those picks on Williams and Spence (other than for depth). However, going forward with who we have would likely be a big risk.
I will say in this regard, the Steelers probably know better than most of us what they have in Vince Williams and Sean Spence. They definitely have plenty of options, it’s just which one could possibly get them back to the Superbowl?