Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

19 Apr 2007

Draft Needs: AFC North

The draft needs series continues. Learn who might be the next great Steelers linebacker and the surprising identity of the one AFC North team that actually doesn't need a linebacker right now.

Posted by: Guest on 19 Apr 2007

14 comments, Last at 20 Apr 2007, 9:20am by mawbrew

Comments

1
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 1:13pm

"Top five areas of need:
1. Outside linebacker
2. Guard
3. Cornerback
4. Wide receiver
5. Center

Who they hope falls to them: Nebraska defensive end Adam Carriker"

Am I missing something here?

Why would the steelers take Carriker? Even you say that they done't have a need at DE or DT but then take him anyway?

2
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 1:18pm

Don't quite gte the love for Blaylock -- Staley or Grubbs would be just as good, without the undeachiever baggage that comes form his last few games at Texas.

3
by bengt (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 1:24pm

Carriker would make sense if the Steelers do indeed move Brett Keisel to OLB.
The news is that Willie Reid has recovered from his season-ending-before-it-began injury, so return qualities might not be high up on the wish list.
I have read at least one convincing analysis why Posluszny would not fit the Steelers system at all, probably on Ryan's site.

4
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 1:25pm

Glad to see this posted in Extra Points. For some reason the stuff placed in the 'Fox Box' doesn't get nearly as much discussion.

Yes, Cleveland is the one team in this division not looking to add linebackers. But I would argue their biggest need is on the D-line. Unless they trade down they aren't likely to draft a defensive player in round one. But I sure hope they get a NT or DE on the first day.

The Browns could add Thomas and it might make some sense if they're convinced they can't rely on Ryan Tucker. But a QB seems more likely.

Steve McNair is great? I thought they made a great move when they got him last year. But when they started playing, I thought his performance was underwhelming. At least, not as strong as I had expected. Better than Boller, but....

I'd tend to agree about the Bengals defensive needs but wonder if they don't also need some additional depth at WR. Washington's gone. Henry is out for at least the first half (and his career could be at risk). I don't think the rest of the guys behind Housh and Johnson have demonstrated much.

On the other hand, I don't think the Steeler's are in that bad a shape at WR. Every mock I've seen has them taking a defensive player, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them take an OL.

5
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 1:32pm

Carriker might also be the best available player at that spot. There might not be a linebacker, guard, or cornerback worth taking at their draft spot. Instead of taking someone five-ten spots ahead of where he's rated, why not go for a quality player who can contribute right away at an essential position? Especially if they can move a lesser DE to OLB to fill that hole, then Carriker moves into the DE spot.

Besides, depth at OL and DL are never bad things, and it never hurts to get additional good young players there even before there's a need.

6
by cdd (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 1:32pm

1: The article seems to be suggesting that Carriker is able to handle both the OLB that the Steelers need in the 3-4, or as a defensive end, if Tomlin wants to present a 4-3 for whatver reason. It could help provide a transition between the two defense types, or simply help sow confusion in the opposing offense.

7
by Israel (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 1:46pm

Let's say you need a linebacker and so do your two main division rivals.

It's your pick first and the best linebacker is still available. You don't take him, then one of your rivals does.

Do you think that might figure into the calcualtions at number 15?

8
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 2:52pm

Re: 6

I think the intent is to suggest Carriker could play end in either a 3-4 or 4-3 (not LB in a 3-4) due to his size (almost 300#).

9
by Luz (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 3:28pm

is this the same article as four downs?

10
by Alex99 (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 4:05pm

Re: 1 The steelers have a long history of takin' a DE and then use him as an outside linebacker. (sorry for my bad english).

11
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 4:34pm

10 - that's true, but as far as I'm aware Pittsburgh have never spent a first round pick on a DE conversion prospect.

With regards to recievers and Pittsburgh, it's one of the best positions on the team. Hines Ward is 30 (he'll be 31 by the time the season starts), and his more physical style might imply he's going to begin something of a downturn, but last year's performance was atypically poor due to injury, the QB sucking and the pass protection sucking, at least some of which ought to be rectified. That and he was improving towards the end of the year. So I think Ward is fine for a while.

The #2 WR on the roster, Holmes, had an excellent rookie season and looks like a keeper.

Pittsburgh's slot guy is Nate Washington. Washington can be infuriating at times because he has hard hands, and a 49% catch percentage really isn't great. On the other hand, 15.1 DPAR (33rd) and 19.1% DVOA (14th) is darned good for a third receiver.

Fourth on the depth chart is Cedric Wilson, and at this point we finally dip into negative DVOA. Still, Wilson ranked 60th in PAR and 55th in DVOA, which, given that there are 32 teams in the league, puts him well in the upper echelon of fourth WRs. Add to that Willie Reid returning from injury and I really don't see why Pittsburgh would want to draft a WR. The problem with the passing game last year was at the other end.

12
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 6:06pm

Even if the Steelers were planning on moving one of Carriker or Keisel to OLB, is it a good idea? They might have had a history of playing college DEs to LB but these two are far too big. If they're looking for an edge rusher, would they not be better served looking for a gut like Jarvis Moss or a genuine LB like Posluszny

13
by jonnyblazin (not verified) :: Thu, 04/19/2007 - 7:33pm

re: 4
McNair was pretty damn good during the second half of the season (except for the Bengals and Colts games); you know, after he was comfortable with the playbook, recievers, etc.

I'm wondering if the Ravens will bother with even drafting a fullback. They seemed to want to phase that position out of the offense last year, but Jamal Lewis absolutely needed one to have a chance to be effective. With a more athletic back, 3 quality TEs and a younger, more mobile OL I can see the Ravens abandoning using a fullback except on goal line plays (can Justin Green be adequate there?). A lot of teams hardly ever use a fullback in the base offenses, I'm guessing the Ravens will do the same.

"Ravens' losses this off-season and their weaknesses from last season are still plenty."
Hmm? They may have downgraded their OL spot,but they upgraded the RB spot, and their O-line should be better this year (Terry>Pashos, Brown>Mulitalo, Chester>Flynn, and all indications are that Ogden is coming back). They were the best team in the league last year (according to DVOA), and they have one aging cornerback. That's it.

14
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Fri, 04/20/2007 - 9:20am

Re: 13

He may have been better in the second half of the season (I didn't see enough games to argue one way or the other), but he was only average overall. The Colt game you mention was particularly concerning.

In addition to an aging cornerback, they've got (off the top of my head) a MLB, QB, #1 WR, and LT all at some risk of age related decline. They may all stay healthy and play as well as last year, then again....

I wouldn't be surprised to see the Ravens take a considerable step back this year. But what do I know.