Just My Opinion ...

SCI.net's Jim Wexell flashes sparks of rage about Steelers free agency ... well, not really, but it's a fun read anyway.

From the notebook of a sportswriter who's having a hard time getting excited about free agency when all that's being connected to the Steelers is Cary Williams:

* I didn't watch the Philadelphia Eagles much, if at all, last season, but I do understand they had problems with their cornerbacks, that they ranked 31st in pass defense.

* The Steelers are interested in one of their castoffs?

* A 30-year-old cornerback?

* Hey, I can live with Brice McCain, Antwon Blake, William Gay and a second-rounder if that's the alternative.

* I would say a first-rounder but I really believe the team's need for a pass-rusher is larger.

* Yes, there are five classic "tweener" OLB-DEs heading everyone's list for 3-4 defenses, but I still want Owamagbe Odighizuwa with pick 22.

* And I still stand by my plan to sign James Harrison for a year, move him to the strong side, and have him mentor Double-O for that year.

* Again, put Owa next to James in the locker room, let him withstand a silent treatment, angry stares, whatever James deems necessary for rookie initiation, and then let James take him under his wing, because Owa will ask for help, will bust his rear end in the weightroom, and will impress James with his natural strength and desire for more.

* Jarvis Jones has not done that. The injury last season could've been the cause, but, after Jarvis told me he had learned so much from James, I asked James about it. He said Jarvis hadn't approached him at all.

* Harrison is not the kind of vet to approach younger players. If you want to be great, that's up to you, not him.

* Jarvis and James don't seem compatible in my eyes. Jarvis is a laid-back, nice guy who listens to Bob Marley and country-western. I don't think James likes music at all.

* I've made this point before. I know. And I apologize for the lack of fresh material today, but I don't want to overthink this.

* I've heard from so many that Owa lacks bend and won't become a great pass-rusher, but I won't be moved off my point that his ability to generate speed off his great power will result in plenty of pressure on the QB and therefore plenty of sacks. He will also stuff the run. He will also drop into coverage as well as LaMarr Woodley ever did. And he will show more off the far edge than he was allowed to show at UCLA, which often used him as a 5-tech and then moved him even further inside on pass downs.

* Hey, if you don't like Owa, how about Preston Smith? He's another so-called 4-3 end who even played NT in the Mississippi State nickel. He's only 271 pounds but has that kind of power. That's what I want.

* Eli Harold, the gangly kid who could grow into a long and strong pass-rusher in a couple of years, is too much of a risk for me at pick 22. The Steelers have shown a lot of interest in him and he could very well be the pick. But again, I prefer one of these 270-pound asskickers, who, if they can't give you what you want as a 3-4 OLB, will force you to change the scheme.

* What's the point of changing defensive coordinators if the new one doesn't bring some fresh ideas or isn't adaptable to talent?

* Is this team about scheme or acquiring talent? What happened to best athlete available? The Steelers need more power, strength and attitude. Case closed.

* Vic Beasley was my favorite pass-rusher all college season, but when I was told he weighed in the 220s I just didn't see the Steelers being able to draft yet another light linebacker. But the guy I compared to a young Joey Porter weighed 246 at the combine. It spiked my interest. Unfortunately, it was sure to have spiked the interest of the 21 other teams drafting ahead of the Steelers.

* Randy Gregory and Dante Fowler will be gone, but Shane Ray could be there. If he runs a 4.4, Mike Tomlin said he will come pick Ray up, according to Ray. He weighed 245 and isn't a strong-side guy, but I could live with it.

* The thing about Bud Dupree -- and I expect him to be available at pick 22, in spite of how much he impressed the media with his track skills -- is that at 260-plus he drops beautifully into coverage. And he has a great burst to the QB once clear. But even with that power-to-speed potential, he just left me wanting too much against offensive tackles, as well as in the run game.

* But if the Steelers bring back Jason Worilds or sign Brandon Graham or Jabaal Sheard, they'll draft the pass-rusher in the second or third round and draft the cornerback first.

* I would be happy in the first with any of the corners I thought would be second-rounders: Kevin Johnson, Eric Rowe, Byron Jones, even the forgotten Alex Carter.

* And then I would try to steal one of the quality small guys Kevin White, Steven Nelson, Quandre Diggs in a middle round.

* Steelers fans would be tickled with both Byron Jones and Kevin White out of this draft. They could even take an offensive lineman in the second round if he's bookended with those two corners.

* And I would just ignore the pass-rusher. If you want to settle for another team's failed 3-4 OLB in free agency, I'm going to pretend the position doesn't exist.

* To think this column started as a rant about Cary Williams.

* I just don't care for ex-Ravens not named Haloti Ngata. Especially ex-Ravens who were mere bodies on the corner while their asskickers up front carried the days.

* One of the most frequent questions asked to me on Twitter is "Would you take Brandon Scherff if he fell to 22?" Or "Would you take La'el Collins if he fell to 22?" Yes, yes, yes. But I can't see either of those tackle-guards falling to 22. They are beasts, and they have beastly attitudes.

* Whom would I replace on the O-line with either one of them? I don't know. Maybe no one for a year. But the Steelers need depth on the O-line anyway.

* You don't draft a first-rounder for depth? Why not? The Steelers' O-line was fortunate to stay so healthy last year. I wouldn't count on that happening again, and there has to be a Wally Pipp in there somewhere. Scherff and Collins can play four positions.

* The Steelers' best reserve on the O-line plays center, so they would finally be covered.

* The O-lineman whom I had identified as a great second or third-round sleeper during the college season -- Oregon LT Jake Fisher -- is now being hailed by experts as the best left tackle in the draft. So much for that.

* In the Scout.com publisher's draft that will be out soon, I drafted Odighizuwa over SS Landon Collins. That was the toughest decision for me. I think the Steelers have three safeties in place and probably a fourth by signing back Will Allen, and I want to see Shamarko Thomas play SS this year, but Collins is outstanding. I think he's a bigger playmaker. My only question is that aching shoulder with which he struggled late in the season. Otherwise, I could make that pick over Owa and deal with having so many strong safety types later.

* As in Mike Mitchell-had-better-show-me-more later, because if they thought Mitchell could play free safety, than they had better feel the same about Landon Collins or I'll lose all confidence in them.

* As for the defensive line, my hope is the front office is awaiting word on Brett Keisel's rehab before cutting Cam Thomas.

* Could you imagine them cutting a healthy Keisel over Thomas and his $2 million salary just because they're "turning the page"?

* Blood on the streets in the town of Pittsburgh. Blood stains the roofs and the palm trees in Irwin ...

* Make my draft day with this guy in the third round: Grady Jarrett, angry, young and undersized defensive tackle from Clemson.

* Yep, a 4-3 DE in the first, a CB in the second, and a 4-3 DT in the third.

* It's not scheme I'm after, I swear. Although I would appreciate a fresh approach. But, no, it's the talent that I like. Just get the talent and let your fancy new coordinator get to work.

* For all of you who Seinfeld aficionados, yes, the image is that of Keith Butler wearing a fur coat. And I don't even know why.

* See you all throughout this busy week, because the Steelers have some work to do.


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