By Chaz Bolte AFCNT.com writer (Originally published on December 15th, 2009)
It is hard for Steelers fans to think about rebuilding the dynasty when the memories of Super Bowl XLIII are still fresh in their minds. However in terms of the playoff picture they are on the outside looking in. Throughout the year Steeler fans have watched former heroes age before their eyes and prospects with potential not live up to it. There are winds of change blowing off the confluence and hard decisions will have to be made at season’s end.
Farrior has been the leader of the Steelers’ Defense for the better part of the decade and for most of it he was the Steel Curtain’s most reliable player. This season he has finally started to age and he aged before our eyes in the Raiders game. The Steelers’ front office has been on target in the past in terms of when to release aging linebackers. Levon Kirkland, Greg Lloyd, and others have been released before the fans had to watch their decline and Farrior will probably share the same fate.
Fast Willie isn’t so fast anymore and with Rashard Mendenhall the Steelers’ RB of the future it is safe to say Parker will be starting for another team next year.
You can’t fire the entire Special Teams but you can fire the coach. It may not be his fault that they have failed so miserably this year, but he didn’t do anything to help it. He simply did not succeed and that is grounds for dismissal.
If Reed can’t land a job in the NFL next year he can become a magician, because he has somehow fooled the masses into believing he is a great kicker. He is nothing more than average if not slightly below. It is hard to kick in Heinz Field but other kickers have done it and with his legal history he no longer fits the “Steelers’ Mold”
The defensive backs coach has done nothing to help the ailing secondary and a new voice needs to be heard.
I personally like the general idea of what Arians has done with the offense this year. Allowing Big Ben to throw 35 to 40 times a game is a good plan but the play calling has been at times questionable. The pitch to Mewelde Moore near the end of the Chiefs game comes to mind. It’s easier to fire the coach than the players and Arians may be the scapegoat for the offense’s failures.
Clark is a free agent at the end of the year and he has given the Steelers no reason to bring him back. Without Troy to have his back he has shown that his time in the Steelers’ secondary is all but over. He will probably land with another team but don’t expect him to be a starter again.
Assuming that the rest of the team stays, including Hines Ward and Casey Hampton, the Steelers must look to the draft to replenish the team’s talent pool. If the season ended today Pittsburgh would select 15th overall, however they have shown in recent history that they will trade up if they see a player they really want. Here is a list of prospects to watch.
Taylor Mays S, USC
At 6’4, 225 Mays is a dominant presence and could take Ryan Clark’s job immediately. Some experts predict he will go before the 15th pick but if he falls to the Steelers he would be a perfect pick.
Trent Williams OT, Oklahoma
This 6’5 318 pound Right Tackle was a first team All-American this season. He could take the struggling Willie Colon’s spot. Some experts expect him to go late 1st round or early 2nd round, but his stock is rising. He would not be that much of a stretch at the 15th slot because he gives the Steelers a solid RT and they have not selected a offensive lineman since Kendall Simmons in 2002.
Raj-I Dowling S/CB, Virginia
A speedy CB with good size (6’2 200) he also projects as a NFL safety. The Steelers’ need help at both positions.
Matt Tennant C, Boston College
If they select a DB in the first round Matt Tennant would make sense at this spot. Some experts would say this is to high, but most agree the 6’4 286 pounder is a legit NFL center.
Brandon Spikes ILB, Florida
If he drops to the Steelers this should be their pick. Most noted for gouging the eye of an opponent and then suspending himself for the next game the 6’3 245 pound linebacker would help replenish the aging linebacker corps.
Nate Allen S, South Florida
If the Steelers’ take anything but a safety in the first round this would be a good fit. The 6’3 190 pound senior is a solid prospect.
O’Brien Schoefield DE/OLB, Wisconsin
Schoefield is a 3-4 linebacker and would give the Steelers’ depth at the position
Chad Jones FS, LSU
The 6’3 231 pound junior is a dynamic athlete serving as both football and baseball star for the Tigers. If safety needs are not met before this pick he would be an excellent addition.
Tyson Alualu DE/DT, Cal
The 6’3 295 pounder would provide depth on the defensive line.
Perish Cox CB/KR, Oklahoma State
The dynamic Cox would give the Steelers’ depth at CB and provide them with a replacement for Stephan Logan who does not play a regular position.