JW: I'll admit. I was back-and-forth on it before giving the edge to Plaxico Burress, too.
AM: Yeah, but you can't pass on the franchise quarterback. A wise man told me a long time ago you take the guy who gets the touches: the quarterbacks, the running backs, linebackers, a shutdown corner. Those are the guys who control the game. You get a guy like (Ben) Roethlisberger here, he keeps the sticks moving. All of the sudden your line looks better; your defense looks better.
JW: Is he better than Eli Manning?
AM: No. Manning's the top guy. Look at the rest of that team he's on. They don't have much and they're not in the MAC, either.
JW: He looks a bit immobile to me.
AM: He can move better than you think. And that fifth year is big. That's what the other guy lacks. Quarterbacks mature so much in that fifth year.
JW: How high will they go?
AM: Manning's a top-five guy and Roethlisberger's in the top 10. Look at him up there.
JW: I say he looks like Jim Kelly.
AM: I see some (John) Elway in his movements. Look at the way he bounces out of his drop.
JW: You guys won't get a shot at either one of them. What about the other guys, J.P. Losman and Philip Rivers?
AM: I love Rivers.
AM: Isn't that enough?
JW: But don't the Steelers have a bigger need at cornerback?
AM: Sure. Everyone wants a shutdown corner. Just tell me where they are.
JW: You tell me. You're the Answer Man. I think the Miami free safety, Sean Taylor, can be the next Mel Blount. He covered Larry Fitzgerald pretty well when he had to.
AM: Fitzgerald isn't a speed guy.
JW: Can Taylor play cornerback?
AM: I think he can play outside linebacker. Listen, you're not the only guy who thinks a 6-3 corner is the way to go. Receivers are getting bigger, true, but there aren't as many burners any more. Man, you want guys who can flat out run and cover. That's all getting lost in this height craze right now. Besides, we need a pass-rusher. If you look at the so-called shutdown corners out there, you'll find they're getting a lot of help from a pass-rusher or two.
JW: Is Alonzo Jackson a pass rusher or a linebacker?
AM: I think he's a linebacker. He's like Jason (Gildon) in space, but I think he'll be alright. It's tough though when you only see him in practice.
JW: I thought for sure you guys were looking at Antwaan Peek last year.
AM: We were, but he was gone when we drafted Jackson.
JW: No, no, no, no, no. The Texans took him in the third round.
AM: Are you sure?
JW: Quite. See, I thought you guys liked him. Was it a character issue?
AM: No. The character issues he had, those are the ones you don't mind. Like beating up mom's abusive boyfriend? That stuff's OK. I guess we just liked Alonzo better. Come to think of it, you are right.
JW: So, you won't pass on a franchise quarterback, and you have glaring holes at running back and offensive tackle. You can go offense if Chad Scott returns to form. How likely is that?
AM: He can't cover. The only guy we have who can cover is Deshea (Townsend) and he's a liability against the run.
JW: What about Ike Taylor? Could he take that spot next year?
AM: Maybe. He's coming along. Like Troy (Polamalu). Those guys are in the nickel and dime, which is just right for them right now. Troy's really coming on. You're going to be surprised when you see him next year.
JW: What about Chris Hope? Is he lost out there?
AM: No. To tell you the truth, he's doing better than all of them in that regard.
JW: Why hadn't he been playing?
AM: He was in Bill's doghouse for the longest time. He wasn't hustling last year on special teams and that did it. He was a star at Florida State and never played special teams. This year, he started playing them like his job was on the line and the good things started coming his way. No, he's alright back there.
JW: When will he take Brent Alexander's job?
AM: When the coach has total confidence. It's up to the coach.
JW: You're on a roll. Will you try to re-sign Clark Haggans?
AM: I think so. He can play linebacker. We saw that when Joey (Porter) was out.
JW: Is Joey slipping this year?
AM: No. They're just sliding their protection his way.
JW: Is Gildon done?
AM: Well, he can't cover at all. And tight ends and sometimes backs block his rush.
JW: So what does the defense need for next season?
AM: A corner, a pass rusher and a defensive lineman.
JW: And the offense needs a quarterback, running back, tackle and tight end. That comes to seven needs and eight draft picks.
AM: Perfect. We can get a punter, too.
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