Pittsburgh Steelers: 2013 Preview

Attention everyone!!! After an 8-8 season last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers have plenty of work to do. After a disappointing season, the Steelers have cleaned out the locker room and are looking for young guns to take the place of old veterans.  The real question is, what about the draft and the rest of the off-season?

First, people need to grasp what the Steelers do have to work with. Pittsburgh still has a strong core of players that know how to play the game, regardless of the new lousy offense that has been set forth by Todd Haley. However, in a roster breakdown demonstrated below, this is how I see the Black 'n Gold looking next year.

On offense:

Big Ben is always consistent, but his wide receivers and a recovering Heath Miller will discern whether he has a great year in regards to numbers.

As for our running back situation, this could either go very well for Pittsburgh, or take a downward spiral into oblivion.  As shown by last year, Isaac Redman, whom I had great faith in, is sadly not the answer at running back. Mendenhall is now an Arizona Cardinal, and he was not the answer either. I have now set my sights on Jonathan Dwyer, as I believe he could be what Pittsburgh is looking for. But, Pittsburgh may not be shy in the draft with some great raw prospects coming out this year.

In regards to Wide Receiver, many people are concerned about the departure of Mike Wallace to Miami. I am now here to silence those worries of many people. Mike Wallace was not, and will be never be a true Pittsburgh Steeler. The Steelers organization is respected throughout the entire world, and its players are held to high expectations, and Mike Wallace left for the money. To me, he is a nobody who was overpaid for having good speed, but sadly, no hands. With that being said, we still have Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders (for the time being), Plaxico Burress, and Jerricho Cotchery. I have faith in these guys to get the job done. However, Pittsburgh may still look to the draft for an extra boost.

Now, this is where many people are curious to see what may happen in the draft, or in the off-season in general. With Heath Miller injured, not to mention a terrible injury at that, he may not be ready for the season. According to Mel Kiper, Tyler Eifert, a TE out of Notre Dame, may be our 1st round pick. However, I do not see that happening. I see Pittsburgh believing in Heath Miller's recovery and that he will indeed be in the starting lineup on Week 1.

Now, this is where things getting very crazy, very fast. Our offensive line has been anything but stellar since the departure of Alan Feneca in 2007. Since then, Pittsburgh has been used to Big Ben laying in the backfield consistently, sack after sack. However, if healthy, our young players can and will be one of the best offensive lines that there are. Pouncey is the best offensive lineman we have, but he does have a great supporting cast if they can fine tune their roles and stay healthy long enough the get some experience together. Expect Mike Adams and David DeCastro to make an impact this year, and time will tell if Marcus Gilbert will live up to his true potential. Coming off an injury, Gilbert will have a lot to prove to make the starting roster on Week 1.

Now, on to defense. Pittsburgh has been feared for many years as one of the best, if not the best defense every single year. However, in Pittsburgh, our defense has been dismantled in this offseason. Casey Hampton, James Harrison, Keenan Lewis, and Steve McLendon are all now names of the past. Now, the era of players like Ta'amu, Worilds, Sylvester, and Allen have started. However, these young guns are not alone. They still have Kiesel, Woodley, Taylor, Foote, Polamalu, Timmons, and Ryan Clark to help them learn real Steeler football. However, the major question marks are at Nose Tackle (Defensive Tackle), and at Left Defensive End. Evander "Ziggy" Hood is going into his 5th year, and we still have not seen the productivity that a 1st round draft pick should be giving. It is quite possible that he will lose his job to  a draft pick in the preseason if he does not show up to play. Now, DT, or NT, whichever you prefer, is another area of concern. Alameda Ta'amu is a big man, and is quite comparable to Hampton, only Ta'amu is bigger. If Ta'amu can stay out of trouble, (In reference to his recent arrest), and come out to camp in shape and ready to prove that he deserves to wear Black and Gold, then I would welcome to see what he has to give to our defensive front.

In regards to Special Teams, nothing much has changed. Greg Warren will be our always trustworthy Long Snapper. Butler will be punting, Suisham will be kicking. However, Daniel Hrapmann may give Suisham a run for the starting job at kicker. Although not the most exciting competition, kickers are the base of a good team. A consistent kicker makes a consistent team. Remember that when Pittsburgh lost last year, only one game was by more than 10 points. Consistent kickers can make games like that wins versus losses in a heartbeat.

Now, the question in everybody's mind, what will Pittsburgh do in this years draft. Many people say that Cordarrelle Patterson would be a perfect pick for Pittsburgh since Mike Wallace jumped ship, but many mock draft "experts" have him off of the board by the Number 17 pick. Another interesting prospect is Jarvis Jones out of Georgia, due to a spinal problem, many teams have shied away from Jones, but he could be a good pick with a great upside. Kenny Vaccaro out of Texas has also been tossed around in the Steeler mix because of the durability and injury problems of Polamalu and Clark, not to mention their increasing age. But, I have a different theory, one that is so radical that it will shock the entire Steeler nation, for the first time in Pittsburgh's team history we are going to get the biggest steal ever.....in the 1st round, with the 17th pick...the Pittsburgh Steelers select....

Manti Te'o, former linebacker, Norte Dame. Why is he considered a former linebacker you ask? Pittsburgh will not draft him to play, but to run the teams gossip column and hand out towels and drinks during time-outs. Yes, pittsburgh has made history by drafting the first waterboy in NFL Draft history...

Now, obviously that was a joke. We can always draft a better waterboy in later rounds other than Manti Te'o. In all seriousness, Pittsburgh needs to address defense in this draft first. The definitive answer should be either DE or DT. Sylvester Williams may be a stretch a 17, but he may be a great player to battle with Ta'amu, and maybe take the starting job outright. Star Lotulelei would be a steal at this pick, and Sheldon Richardson would be a great addition as well. However, with all of this being said, the Steelers will take Jarvis Jones at 17 if he is still available on the board. He does have health issues, but his upside is very much worth the risk. If he plays at the level he is supposed to, he will be one of the best linebackers in the NFL for years to come. He has been compared to Von Miller and James Harrison, and I am sure that nobody will fight a comparison like that.

In conclusion, the Steelers do have a good bit of work to do, but they will be able to mend a team that has been dismantled into a contender. I heard a reporter once say that Pittsburgh never rebuilds, they just reload. I believe that is the way we are going to play this year. Work hard, reload, take aim, and fire. Watch out, because the Black and Gold is angry.

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