By Corey J. Corbin
Allied News Sports Columnist
WITH THE NFL’S free agency period pretty much at a standstill now, I think it’s time to take a look at what I think are the Steelers’ needs in advance of the annual draft in two weeks.
The Steelers generally enter the draft with the best available athlete mantra when it comes to making their selections and I don’t think this year will be any different with the exception of offensive line, cornerback and quarterback.
Those are the only three positions where I just can’t fathom General Manager Kevin Colbert pulling the trigger to pick, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see a player from any other position (besides kicker and punter obviously) selected with the No. 17 overall pick.
The Steelers aren’t in desperate need of a quarterback or even a back-up, so they can wait to select one until the later rounds when they can take one to groom behind Ben Roethlisberger.
The cornerbacks are in pretty decent shape with Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen and William Gay at the top three spots and Curtis Brown as their No. 4.
I know, I know we’re basing Allen on his performance over the last few games last year, but that showing was better than what Keenan Lewis gave us prior to earning the starting spot last year.
And Brown has done diddly squat since coming into the league, but the Steelers can wait until the middle rounds to take another corner to compete with Brown.
Not too many like the make-up of the Steelers’ o-line of Marcus Gilbert, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Mike Adams, but you know what, I do.
The key to them as a group is staying healthy and Foster has been the only one to do so lately, but the law of averages says it has to happen eventually, so why not in 2013?
As for running back and receiver, I think they can wait until the second or third rounds to pick up quality players that can help or even start almost immediately.
Many fans are clamoring for speedy West Viriginia receiver Tavon Austin or Alabama running back Eddie Lacy, but Lacy’s skill set doesn’t match the new zone blocking scheme the Steelers are installing and Austin’s teammate Stedman Bailey is the better overall receiver coming out of Morgantown this year.
I don’t know that I’d take a safety this year — even though Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro would look nice in Black and Gold — nor would I take a defensive lineman.
I’d give Steve McLendon the opportunity to show what he can do in the middle of the d-line and Brett Keisel still has a quality year left in him, while Cam Heyward deserves some more playing time and Ziggy Hood hasn’t been horrible.
In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t talked about the linebacking corps and there’s a good reason for that -- I’m just not sure if they should go with a linebacker either.
I think the Steelers are in a good spot with Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons on the inside and am hoping that LaMarr Woodley wakes up and uses all the criticism he’s received this offseason as motivation to live up to hefty contract.
I’d like the Steelers give Jason Worilds the opportunity to prove himself more thoroughly this year rather than just give up on him. Remember, he did have 5 sacks in limited playing time in 2012 while James Harrison was rehabbing from injury.
With that in mind, I wouldn’t have a problem if the Steelers took a Georgia Bulldog with their first round pick — outside ‘backer Jarvis Jones or inside ’backer Alec Ogletree.
By this point in previous years, I had already zeroed in on which player I wanted the Steelers take to take and this year, I’m still not sure, which could be a good thing or a bad thing.
That’ll only make the first round all the more exciting for me, because I won’t have to worry about being disappointed when they take someone else.