As the NFL draft approaches (April 25-26), and the Steelers begin to finalize the roster, you can bet on a few things, some of which we’ve already seen play out: the Steelers rarely, if ever, overpay veteran players , they are known to sign their own free agents first and they always draft well. Â Today, the gaps that exist include depth at quarterback, wide receiver and defense as well as the omni-present offensive line issues. Â
With both Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch free agents, there is a real need to have a back-up to Big Ben. Â Byron Leftwich has worked out with the Redskins and is being considered as back up to Jason Campbell.Â That’s a risky move for Leftwich.Â Do you stay back up on a team that wins championships or do you make the move to a dysfunctional team – though it is your hometown?Â The best thing for Redskins fans would be for Leftwich to step it up and start – fans would go crazy for a hometown boy as their starting QB.Â However, “sources” tell @Steelergurl that Leftwich is only being considered for back up with the Redskins.Â There is doubt, according to my source, that he’s able to play a 16 game schedule.Â I’m not sure I buy it, and I think he’s a great QB, and we’re very happy to keep him in Pittsburgh.Â
But somone’s got to go.Â Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon are right behind Leftwich.Â Dixon was a Steelers fifth round draft pick out of Oregon – he was inactive most of last season though he showed glimpses of promise during the pre-season last year.Â It’s the Steelers way to mentor and develop younger players.Â It won’t be Dixon when the chopping block comes, that’s my guess.
When Bryant McFadden signed with the Arizona Cardinals earlier this spring, it left a gap in the Steelers secondary.Â However, William Gay should be ready to fill that role.Â Last year he started 6 games when both McFadden and Townsend were out with injuries.Â He’s athletic and a good defender.Â This next season promises more play time for Gay and we know he’ll be ready to roll.Â Still, the Steelers should look for an opportunity for a 4th man in this position – someone they can develop and grow into another strong Steelers defensive player.
Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes are a great combination – but there’s no doubt the Steelers miss the height and athleticism of a Plax or Randel-El.Â Limas Sweed is a great addition and barring any dropped balls in the next season, will hopefully have worked and developed into a great wide receiver.Â I like Limas, he reminds me a lot of Santonio in his rookie year and I think he will have taken the time to work hard and address the weaknesses in his game.Â That said, it would still be in the Steelers best interest to work on getting a young wide receiver to give the roster some depth.Â Ward is 32 years old and has had his share of injuries, especially at the end of the season last year.Â Though he played in the Super Bowl, clearly, he wasn’t at 100 percent.
And finally, it’s obvious the offensive line still needs some work.Â Let’s just hope they pick up some key players – big kids who can protect Ben.Â With some upgrades on the line, most of the defense in tact, the Steelers should once again be contenders for the Lombardi.