The Steelers enter the 2011 draft with fairly good depth at wide receiver and running back, but that does not mean they can ignore either position, should opportunity present itself.
Steel Curtain Rising questioned picking two wide receivers during the 2010 draft, but both Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders paid handsome dividends on in the open field and on special teams. Their contributions led to a unit that was actually improved despite the loss of Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes.
Hines Ward continued to deliver in 2010, but finally appeared to show signs of age. Still his value to the unit cannot be underestimated. Ward’s numbers may have been down, but he made is catches count.
If Ward is facing a little downside, then Mike Wallace should be looking at upside. While is playoff production drop off shows he still has more to learn, Wallace is on the way to being an elite receiver.
Randal El made contributions in 2010, but appears to be on his way out or at the very least slated to fight for a roster spot. Arnaz Battle didn’t catch many balls, but played well on special teams.
While Steel Curtain Rising is hoping that Limas Sweed will not only recover from his Achilles tendon tear and push for a spot, the Steelers are not counting on that. Nor should they.
The NFL is a passing league now, like it or not, and Ward’s age dictates that the Steelers cannot afford to ignore wide receiver in the 2011 draft.
- Draft priority of wide receiver for the Steelers in 2011: Moderate.
Steelers Situation at Running Back
Rashard Mendenhall failed to have the breakout year in 2010 that many hoped and/or expected. At times he ran with authority and power, such as in the AFC Championship game against the Jets, at other times he appeared hesitant at the line of scrimmage (not that he always had good holes.) And Mike Tomlin’s protests to the contrary, two of Mendenhall’s 3 or 4 fumbles came in post season.
Mendenhall still has plenty of potential but perhaps he’s also shown some of his limits. Regarding limits, the Steelers show no intention of limiting his carries, which will shorten his career.
Isaac Redman impressed mightily actually making good on the cult-hero status he did nothing to cultivate. At the very least, Redman shows he deserves a shot at being a number 2 back in the NFL.
Mewelde Moore is a free agent and his numbers dipped in 2010 and his role dropped off. Still, he’s a versatile player who can continue to contribute.
Jonathan Dwyer played in the finale against Cleveland, and he looked OK. This came after impressing in mini-camp and flirting with the waiver wire in training camp. He remains an unknown commodity.
The Steelers are in solid shape at running back, but it would behoove them to bolster their depth should the opportunity arise.
- Draft priority of running back for the Steelers in 2011: Moderate.