On the Clock: Pittsburgh Steelers

Scouts Inc. puts the Steelers on the clock, breaking down their offseason moves and looking at what questions still need answering.

Originally Published: April 4, 2007
By Jeremy Green | Scouts Inc.

Through April 20, "SportsCenter" will put every NFL team On The Clock. Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering.

Scouts: Free-agent tracker
Steelers
For a complete list of all of the Steelers' free agents and all their offseason signings, check out Scouts Inc.'s free-agent tracker.
Steelers' free agents
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It has been said by a lot of experts that this is going to be a transition year for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Longtime head coach Bill Cowher resigned after the 2006 season and has been replaced by the young and inexperienced Mike Tomlin. However, we do not buy into that theory. Regardless of who is calling the shots on the sideline, this is still one of the more talented teams in the AFC, and expectations should be very high. QB Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a disappointing season, but a lot of that can be attributed to the miserable offseason he experienced. After a serious motorcycle accident and then appendectomy surgery prior to Week 1, it was apparent that Big Ben was not going to be 100 percent physically or mentally. However, he is still an excellent starter and has the physical tools to bounce back. The defense will primarily be a 3-4 under holdover defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, but Tomlin has a 4-3 background and will mix things up and keep opposing offenses off balance. Pittsburgh has not been very active this offseason, but that is the nature of the franchise. The Steelers were so successful under Cowher because they built effectively through the draft.

Key additions

The biggest addition for Pittsburgh this offseason was Tomlin. At 35 years old, he is young, but he's extremely talented and is an excellent communicator who can relate to players. He will have big shoes to fill, but Tomlin is more than capable of handling the job. In terms of player movement, Pittsburgh has not been very active. The only free-agent acquisition was former Tampa Bay guard/center Sean Mahan. Mahan has primarily played guard but is a bright player who should be a better fit at center. Playing center will allow Mahan to be singled up more and play on the second level, where he is most effective. The team also re-signed Najeh Davenport, who is a good No. 3 running back and special-teams player; Tyrone Carter, who can play both safety spots and even corner if a disaster occurred; and special-teams standout Chidi Iwuoma.

Mock draft: Steelers
The Pick (No. 15 overall):
DE/OLB Jarvis Moss, Florida
Insider

Moss
Todd McShay: Moss is a bit raw but a great athlete. Moss is fluid enough to fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker and his frame is big enough to add bulk for when the Steelers eventually move to a 4-3.
Complete mock draft Insider
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Key losses

The biggest losses for Pittsburgh came outside the lines. The loss of Cowher, offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona) and assistant coach Russ Grimm (Arizona) will be tough to overcome. Cowher is a great head coach, Whisenhunt was a solid offensive coordinator and Grimm did an excellent job of building Pittsburgh's offensive line into a dominating unit. However, the new staff is also solid, and although there might be a few early growing pains, this team has enough talent to overcome that. On the field, the team's biggest losses were OLB Joey Porter (Miami) and C Jeff Hartings (retired). Although the release of Porter was criticized by some, his production was starting to dip (double-digit sacks only once in the last four years). We think Porter's intensity and on-field leadership will be missed more than his playmaking ability. The loss of Hartings will also be felt. He was a solid leader and communicator up front. The other losses include often-injured RB Verron Haynes (released) and Sean Morey, a good special-teams player who went to Arizona. Pittsburgh still has a bunch of unsigned unrestricted free agents, but they will be replaced with younger and more talented players through the draft.

Remaining questions

Pittsburgh will still be a 3-4 defense this season, but as the Steelers move toward the 4-3 in the future, the main ingredient they will be lacking is a big-time outside linebacker. If they can find one like Florida State's Lawrence Timmons, who's versatile enough to play in both schemes, it would be a huge bonus. The corner position is also a question. Their young corners, Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden, did not play as well last season as they did in 2005. The team also could use another playmaker at wide receiver. Despite the coaching changes, this should not be considered a rebuilding year in Pittsburgh. This team has enough talent to win now.