Sunday, May 27, 2012

Brandon Lindsey Interview

Steelers linebacker Brandon Lindsey.
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
On May 15, during Fourth and Twelve's segment on Tha SPORTSKRIB, we interviewed Steelers linebacker Brandon Lindsey.

Lindsey was an undrafted free agent signed by the Steelers after this year's draft. He played his high school football at Aliquippa and his college ball at Pitt.

Lindsey talks about what he needs to do to make the team this season and about what it means to be in his hometown. Other topics include the Miami Heat, him playing other positions and not being a Steelers fan growing up.

Listen here. The interview starts at 26:00


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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Steelers OTA Story Lines

As the Pittsburgh Steelers Organized Team Activities kicked off here this week, let's take a look at some early stories that could be developing in the organization.

Back Up Quarterback
I'll make a bold prediction: Ben Roethlisberger WILL start Week 1. Call me crazy, but I think it's his year.
Larry Foote will replace James Farrior as the
Steelers defensive signal caller.
(Photo from Steelers.com)

After that, the Steelers currently lists four other QBs including Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, Troy Smith and Jerrod Johnson. My question is who is going to win the two remaining spots on the roster?

I love Charlie as much as the next guy, but when is it going to be the right time to tell him to stop coming back and just offer him an assistant coaching position? That's basically what he does now. Pittsburgh wasn't even willing to play him last year against San Francisco when Ben was hurt, why keep him on the roster as a quarterback?

Leftwich has been a solid option as a backup, but injuries have kept him from being able to do that these past few seasons.

Smith was brought in early in the offseason, which gives me a belief that he could be sticking around. Showed that he can do something when in control in San Francisco, so wouldn't mind if he takes Leftwich's role as Big Ben's back up.

As for Johnson, a replacement for Dixon? A big, athletic quarterback? Oh yeah, Dennis is still a free agent, so don't think we won't bring him back for another option as a backup.

Replacing Farrior
No more James Farrior means no more defensive signal caller. Seeing who will step up inside will be pretty interesting. The elder of the group, and who Dick Lebeau has stated will be the new Farrior will be Larry Foote.

Although Foote is experienced, he's also past his prime. I'd love to see Lawrence Timmons become the signal caller of the future. Timmons has developed into a great former first round selection and I think becoming the defensive captain could be his next step.

With Foote up there in age, it'll also be fun to watch guys like Stevenson Sylvester and third round pick Sean Spence pick up some time at that inside backer spot.

Mike Wallace
Obviously, he won't show up to these workouts but that means young guys like Toney Clemons and Marquis Maze can fight for extra reps and get to showcase their skills.

Willie Colon will be seen at left guard this season.
(Photo from Steelers.com)
Clemons, to me, is going to develop into a very viable weapon. He has the skill set to be dangerous early in his career, much like Antonio Brown. This could be a big year for Emmanuel Sanders, if he can stay healthy and I also think Jerricho Cotchery jumps out as one of Big Ben's new favorite targets.

Offensive Line
Who will be the starting five protecting Big Ben this season? Not really a question, but a more exciting scenario for me. The Steelers could have the youngest line in the league, which also means they could have the most inexperienced team in the league.

Earlier last week, the story broke that Willie Colon will move to left guard meaning we could see both David DeCastro and Mike Adams start come Week 1.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Alabama WR Marquis Maze Highlights Steelers UDFAs


Marquis Maze
(Photo from rolltide.com)
After the Steelers draft weekend was over, they wasted no time bringing in some undrafted players to be their next James Harrison or Willie Parker.

To me, Alabama wide receiver Marquis Maze has one of the highest probabilities of making the team. After Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Jerricho Cotchery, depending on how much depth the team wants at receiver, Maze and seventh round pick Toney Clemons can vie for a fifth and sixth spot.

Other players who can possibly make the team would all compete as special teamers. The most notable special teamer could be Drew Butler who will compete with Jeremy Kapinos for the punter job. As far as coverage guys or depth defensively, Pitt linebacker Brandon Lindsey is another guy with a great shot.

Other depth guys/special teamers could include Adrien Robinson (LB, Temple,) Robert Golden (DB, Arizona,) Terry Carter (DB, Louisiana Tech,) Jake Stoller (DE, Yale,) and Ikponmwosa Igbinosun (DE, Southern Connecticut State.)

The Steelers are known to be a team great for signing undrafted free agents. The most notable being Harrison, Parker and now starting running back Isaac Redman. It will be interesting to see if any of these guys looked over in the draft process can have a lasting impact on the organization. 

Steelers Day 3 Draft Recap

The Steelers traded up in the fourth to get their man, Alameda Ta'amu
(Photo from facebook.com/steelers)
4. Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington

This was truly a brilliant move by Kevin Colbert and the Steelers front office. With Casey Hampton getting up in age and coming off of surgery, the Steelers traded up in the fourth to draft the only true nose tackle on the board to be the Big Snack of the future.

Ta'amu is 6'3", 348 pounds making him a true space eater. I'll be excited to see how Dick Lebeau works with him to make him a key contributor on his defense.

5. Chris Rainey, RB, Florida

Here you go, Todd Haley. This is a great pick for you to turn into an offensive weapon. Rainey is a track star with 4.3 speed who can be utilized as a running back, receiver or return man. He probably reminded Haley of Dexter McCluster.

Another guy with character issues Pittsburgh waived off as an isolated incident, Haley and the Steelers hope he can be a Darren Sproles-like weapon for the offense.


7a. Toney Clemons, WR, Colorado

A hometown kid (Valley High School,) Clemons showed he can be a viable target at Colorado. On film, he reminds me of a taller Antonio Brown. Could be a sleeper weapon for the Steelers.

Valley High School product Toney Clemons returns
 home as the Steelers seventh round pick.
(Photo from facebook.com/steelers)
7b. David Paulson, TE, Oregon

A sure-handed tight end. With Weslye Saunders serving a suspension and David Johnson not highly utilized in the pass game, Paulson has a chance to compete for a roster spot.

7c. Terrence Frederick, CB, Texas A&M

Some thought that Pittsburgh should have addressed corner sooner, but with such high expectations for young corners Keenan Lewis, Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen, the Steelers took their man at a good spot.

7d. Kelvin Beachum, OL, Southern Methodist

Finishing off the draft the way they started it. A versatile lineman who can play either guard or tackle. Will have tough competition of other rookies to prove his worth against.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Steelers Day Two Draft Recap

Steelers Second Round Selection, Mike Adams
(Photo from facebook.com/steelers)
I said that after the Steelers managed to steal David DeCastro in the first round the wouldn't be many different combinations of players in the second and third rounds that would disappoint me. By no means did their two Day Two picks upset me at all.

In the second round, the Steelers continued to add strength to their offensive line drafting Mike Adams (T, Ohio State.) I wanted to sleep on this pick because, like a lot of people, I questioned how the Steelers would deal with a guy with so many off-the-field issues.

Then I realized, Steelers fans need to get off their high horse (myself included.) Adams was a first round talent that fell to Pittsburgh deep in the second round. With the offensive line struggles, Adams was a smart choice. I have total faith the front office and coaching staff will keep him on his best behavior.

After going O-line with the first two picks, you had to think that Mike Tomlin and Dick Lebeau wanted to get a defensive stud and that's the exact direction they went in drafting Miami linebacker Sean Spence.

Steelers Third Round Selection, Sean Spence
(Photo from hurricanesports.cstv.com)
The Steelers really liked Mychal Kendricks, who went earlier in the second round to the Eagles, and Spence was basically the next guy down reminiscent of Kendicks. Spence is undersized for an inside backer, but brings the Steelers mentality on defense and can learn a lot behind Lawrence Timmons.

The biggest disappointment for the second day of the draft, was all of the players who went much earlier than the Steelers would have liked.

Offensively, running back LaMichael James went at the end of the second round to the 49ers and the Colts added FIU wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. Getting james was a crapshoot. No one knew where he'd go, but he had too many offensive positives to not be taken earlier. As for Hilton, he was a guy I really thought the Steelers could have gotten in the fourth round. He'll be a stud in Indy.

As for defense, I was praying that Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still was going to keep falling in the second round but was swooped up a few picks too soon by Cincinnati. New Orleans used their only draft pick in two days to pick Akiem Hicks, a Canadian product with super raw talent. I think he could have been a great fit as well with the Steelers. Denver and Cleveland also picked the two defensive linemen from Cincinnati the Steelers brought in for visits.

Someone who hasn't been drafted: George Iloka. The Steelers could use some help at safety. I'm so surprised he's still on the board. Some others: Alameda Ta'amu, Brandon Thompson or even Lamar Miller.

Look for the Steelers to add depth in the secondary as well as youth to the defensive line and possibly a wide receiver.

Enjoy the final day of the draft!


Friday, April 27, 2012

AFC North First Round Evaluation

Cleveland Browns RB Trent Richardson
(Photo from rolltide.com)
As the Steelers sat around at 24 and made one of the biggest steals in the first round drafting David DeCastro, the rest of the AFC North was busy early and often.

3. Cleveland Browns - Trent Richardson 


Shortly before the draft, the Cleveland Browns showed how aggressive they would be in pursuing Alabama running back Trent Richardson when they moved up one spot and gave Minnesota three extra picks.

Richardson is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson and the first back taken in the top three since Reggie Bush. The Browns are getting a great player in Richardson.

Unfortunately, Richardson has been drafted into one of the toughest defensive conferences in the league. Having to face the Steelers and Ravens twice each in  weather-problematic regions mean the Browns will find out quickly whether Richardson is up for the challenge.

Welcome to Cleveland, Trent. Here's all you need to know!



17. Cincinnati Bengals - Dre Kirkpatrick


Cincinnati continues to be a team that is drafting to get better. They used their Carson Palmer trade pick to bring in a big, athletic corner in Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick who they hope can develop into a shutdown defender for them.

In order to slow down quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco, Kirkpatrick was brought in to make an impact in the passing game. He'll be teamed up with Leon Hall and newly acquired Terence Newman to immediately improve the Bengals secondary.

22. Cleveland Browns - Brandon Weeden


The Browns were looking to make a move to bring in a playmaking receiver, but when their guy Kendall Wright went to the Titans at 20, they pulled a trigger on a surprise pick bringing in Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden.

At 28 years old (29 in October,) the Browns have taken a big risk and in the process have possibly put Colt McCoy on the trade wire.

Brandon, if you didn't get enough info on your new home, here ya go!



27. Cincinnati Bengals - Kevin Zeitler


The Bengals had a nice haul in the first round drafting
Zeitler and Kirkpatrick.
(Photo from facebook.com/Bengals)
The Bengals moved back from 21 when New England came calling and continued to make improvements when they drafted Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler.

Zeitler jumped up the board as the class' second best true guard. The Bengals probably would have loved for DeCastro to keep falling, but that just wasn't going to happen.

Baltimore Ravens


Too bad for the Ravens, huh? Would have loved Dont'a Hightower; New England moves up and gets him. Zeitler could have been a nice addition on the line. Cincinnati beat them to him.

Baltimore backed out of their first round pick and in return got an extra pick from the Vikings. The Ravens are on the clock early in the second round at 35 overall.

Look for the Ravens to find a some youth for their defense or look to upgrade their offensive line to keep Joe Flacco, the best quarterback in the NFL, out of harm's way.



Steelers Draft David DeCastro

Photo from gostanford.com
After a crazy first round of the 2012 NFL Draft that had a record-breaking eight trades, the Steelers sat back at 24 and grabbed a player who will make a difference instantaneously in Stanford guard David DeCastro.

Ranked as the draft's best guard, it had to be a no-brainer for the Steelers front office when they saw DeCastro staring at them 24 picks deep into the draft. At 6'5", 310 pounds, DeCastro is a huge guard that is a major upgrade from Chris Kemoeatu.

Photo from gostanford.com
While at Stanford, DeCastro started every game during his three years in Palo Alto, which means durability. He also helped the Cardinal rush for 209.1 yards per game ranking them 22nd in the nation last season.

DeCastro will also hopefully add a few years to Ben Roethlisberger's career seeing as though he kept Andrew Luck protected. In his three-year career at Stanford, DeCastro's line only allowed 24 sacks.

Some were upset with the decision to go DeCastro when a majority of people would have loved to see Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower rep the Black and Gold, but with DeCastro falling as far as he did and as big of a need at guard that the Steelers had, DeCastro makes more sense.

DeCastro is the third offensive lineman the Steelers have drafted in the first round over the past decade. The last time they did, it was Florida center Maurkice Pouncey, and that turned out to be a pretty good decision. Teaming DeCastro up with Pouncey and other young linemen like Marcus Gilbert will mean good things for the Steelers offense in the future.