1. Wide Receiver
It’s starting to look like the Pittsburgh Steelers will let Mike Wallace sign elsewhere, opening up a hole in their receiving corps. Ben Roethlisberger has asked for a tall receiver in the past and instead was given Wallace (6’0″), Antonio Brown (5’10”) and Emmanuel Sanders (5’11”). This is a deep class of receivers, making it the perfect time for the Steelers to finally grant Big Ben his wish.
2. Outside Linebacker
James Harrison turns 35 in May is only a shell of his former self. The Steelers may chose to save some money and cut him loose this offseason. Jason Worilds will be first in line for his starting job, but some depth is needed.
3. Offensive Line
The Steelers continue to surround Ben Roethlisberg with one of the league’s worst offensive line. As he enters his 10th year in the league, protecting him becomes even more important. Max Starks and Ramon Foster are unrestricted free agent who may be let go. The Steelers may do some reshuffling of the line, so it’s tough to say which positions need to be filled, but they definitely need to address the situation.
1. Wide Receiver
The St. Louis Rams need to upgrade the supporting cast around Sam Bradford. Even if Danny Amendola is re-signed, the Rams need to find Bradford a legitimate No. 1 receiver. After a hot start, Amendola came back down to earth and ended his season with a thud. In the final three weeks, Amendola caught just 12 of 25 passes thrown his direction.
2. Offensive Line
Rodger Saffold is a quality start, but may be better suited to shift to the right side of the line. The Rams could also use an upgrade over free agent left guard Robert Turner. Right tackle Barry Richardson is also an unrestricted free agent.
3. Strong-side linebacker
Veteran Rocky McIntosh is a free agent and likely won’t be back. The Rams lack depth at linebacker and don’t have anyone capable of stepping up to fill his shoes. This could be a position addressed on day two of the draft.
1. Outside Linebacker
The New Orleans Saints are in the process of transitioning to a 3-4 defense under the guidance of Rob Ryan. And it could be a difficult switch of they can’t add the necessary puzzle pieces this offseason. Will Smith could potentially play with his hand off the ground, but he’s a candidate to be a cap casualty. If Smith is cut loose, the Saints may need two new starting outside linebackers.
2. Defensive Line
Akiem Hicks may be able to play nose tackle, but it’s a role in which he has limited experience – and none in a 3-4 system. If Sedrick Ellis is not re-signed, they’ll also need a defensive end.
Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins are both coming off disappointing seasons and probably aren’t in the Saints long-term plans. Harper is due to earn over $11 million combined over the next two seasons, making him a candidate for release.
Eric Fisher OT Central Michigan #79
Size/Athleticism: Prototypical height and overall build. A very good all-around athlete. Extremely quick off the snap. Very fluid footwork when dropping back into pass protection. Athletic enough to get to the second level and also moves well when pulling.
Pass Protection: Consistent in his all-around fundamentals. Does a nice job consistently keeping his hands inside and avoiding unnecessary holding penalties. Impressive quickness off the snap. Displays consistent footwork when sliding in pass protection. Can slide outside and slow down edge rushers without losing his balance or needing to lunge. When he gets his hands into a speed rusher it’s over; he has the strength to toss smaller edge-rushers aside. Uses an immediate cut block a few times per game with mixed results; he’ll occasionally whiff against more athletic edge rushers and would probably be better off limiting his use of this technique. Has the strength to re-anchor when he loses off the snap against the bull rush against most ends. Will lose some battles against stronger bull rushers and could improve in this area by improving his lower-body strength.
Run Blocking: Has the strength to drive his man back off the line. Athletic enough to pull, but sometimes struggles to locate his assignment. Does a nice job staying low to gain leverage, which can be difficult for some guys with his height. Spends a little too much time on the ground. Misses some opportunities to pick up a second block downfield.
Intangibles: Has experience at both tackle positions and some experience at guard. Limited experience against elite competition, but appeared to answer those questions with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl.
Durability: Missed final two games of 2011 season with a knee injury.
Comments: Fisher has the elite athleticism that teams look for in left tackle prospects. His size/athleticism combination makes him a rare commodity which all but ensures he will land within the top 10 picks of the draft. He needs to iron out some minor issues in his game, but he proved at the Senior Bowl that he is capable of jumping from the MAC into a starting role in the NFL.
Despite Jarvis Jones’ performance over the past two seasons at Georgia, his NFL draft stock was in question due to a near-career-ending injury suffered while playing for USC in 2010.
But those questions should be resolved thanks to a report from NFL.com’s Gil Brandt
Each team will still want to learn more about the injury and its potential long-term impact on Jones’ ability to play. But this is clearly a step in the right direction.
Jones was obviously cleared to play by the medical staff at Georgia and, according to Brandt, has been cleared by more doctors.
Presumably Jones will go through more medical testing at the combine along with everyone else, so teams will have multiple reports to lean on if they’re concerned about his health.
In the end, Jones’ health will likely be a non-issue.