Behind The Steel Curtain explains how strong drafting has helped the Steelers navigate salary-cap difficulties, and highlights potential picks for the Steelers’ defense.
First on the list is nose tackle:
Odds are very good 2011 was [Casey] Hampton’s last year as a Steeler. The team will almost certainly ask him to take a paycut to remain with the team, and Hampton isn’t likely to agree to it, considering he could still get relatively close to that $7 million next year (the last of the three year deal he signed before the 2010 season) somewhere else. That decision, though, gets a bit murkier considering Hampton’s long-standing back-up Chris Hoke had neck surgery this season. Going into the year with Steve McLendon (not the run-stopper Hampton is) and no back-up is a risky proposition.
I can’t argue with that. Memphis’ Dontari Poe tops the list of nose tackles the Steelers could potentially take in the draft.
Another possibility is linebacker, and two possibilities there are Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower and Arizona State’s Vontaze Burfict.
The Steelers could also look for cornerbacks and safeties, but probably not in the first round — they currently have several workable pieces at cornerback, and while their safeties are aging, there probably won’t be a safety available in the draft who is worthy of the No. 24 pick.