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PostSubject: AFC North team needs: Steelers   AFC North team needs: Steelers EmptyMon Mar 12, 2012 7:16 pm

AFC North team needs: Steelers
March, 12, 2012
By Jamison Hensley

Free agent officially kicks off at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, so let's take a look at the three biggest needs for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are historically minor players in free agency:

1. Nose tackle: Casey Hampton turns 35 before the season begins and had ACL surgery in January, which means the Steelers need to find their future anchor of the defensive line. Longtime backup Chris Hoke retired, and Steve McLendon isn't a full-time starter in the middle. The Steelers might consider starting Ziggy Hood at nose tackle, even though he is a little undersized for that position. The Steelers would be ecstatic to take Memphis' Dontari Poe in the first round, but he's now considered a top-15 prospect. Other nose tackle prospects who could be on the Steelers' radar include: BYU's Loni Fangupo (second round), Washington's Alameda Ta'amu (third round) or Alabama's Josh Chapman (fourth round). In free agency, Ravens backup nose tackle Brandon McKinney would be an upgrade over McLendon.

2. Offensive line: The Steelers have a hole at left guard and need to improve their depth at offensive tackle. Pittsburgh benched mistake-prone Chris Kemoeatu at left guard and replaced him with Doug Legursky, whose strength is being a versatile backup. The Steelers could stick with Legursky at guard, but that wouldn't be their top choice. Pittsburgh is expected to switch Marcus Gilbert from right to left tackle, a move he handled well in the playoff game in Denver. The risk is giving the right tackle job back to Willie Colon, who has missed two seasons with injuries. If something happened to Colon again, the Steelers would turn to Jonathan Scott, who has struggled mightily every time he has stepped onto the field. The Steelers could always go back to free-agent stand-by Max Starks once he is recovered from ACL surgery.

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