Saturday, April 21, 2012

#252: Attack or Protect?

---SSL Broadcast #90---

The Pittsburgh Steelers are widely expected to choose a linebacker with their first pick (24th overall) in the NFL Draft on Thursday.

For some time, I've been advocating drafting an impact offensive lineman to help center Marquis Pouncey and, by extension, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Still, it looks like Dont'a Hightower from Alabama is destined to be the man they take.

There is no "one right answer" for the NFL draft most of the time. Even the Indianapolis Colts could find that they overestimated Andrew Luck, who they have informed they will pick with the first overall choice this year.

I suppose the question that the Steelers face is whether they prefer to protect their franchise quarterback, or have a better chance to attack the opposing quarterback.

With various injuries and aging veterans, the Steeler pass rush, while occasionally effective, seems to completely stall against the better offensive lines. With injuries and such, outside linebackers Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison had off years. Replacing James Farrior on the inside with Hightower might give the Steelers a bit more push in the middle, which could make opposing offenses have to decide which poison to pick.

Still, I remember vividly thinking that the Steelers season was over during their home game against the Cleveland Browns last year, when Roethlisberger had his foot twisted under him. A constant barrage, year after year, almost always seems to have #7 in less-than-pristine condition when the playoff time comes around. That, of course, is the time of year when the Steelers would need him most.

I would still prefer that the black and gold select an offensive lineman, like Peter Konz from Wisconsin, if he's still on the board. If the defense is a little weaker as a result, and it allows more points to score, a healthy Big Ben can get those points back a bit easier.

Imagine Ben having a consistent pocket or a controlled breakdown to get the defense to overpursue for a change. I can only imagine the magic that Roethlisberger could work under those conditions.

Hightower, while he sounds like he could slip right in immediately and make an impact, is not the highest need in this draft.

On the latest episode:

- Fleury could gain confidence from Game 5 performance (especially 3rd period).

- Pirates couldn't hit a beach ball right now.

- Power sets all-time record comeback in Arena Football.

- An important announcement about the future of the show.



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