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The Steelers go into the 2017 with two clear needs – a cornerback who can excel in man coverage and an outside linebacker that can get to the quarterback. Other needs include a backup running back, backup receiver, and help in slot coverage – whether it be with a safety, cornerback, or even inside linebacker.
This mock draft tries to realistically addresses some – but not all – of those concerns, keeping in mind the Steelers were active enough in free agency at the receiver (Hunter) and corner (Sensabaugh) spots enough to hold some of these concerns temporarily at bay.
Carl Lawson, Auburn
9.5 sacks in 2016
6’2”, 253 pounds
Lawson is one of the few edge rushers in this class who has the size and strength to stand up vs the run while excelling as a pass rusher. Good burst and a variety of pass rushing moves – he’s more seasoned than most pass rushers out of college. Think Lamarr Woodley. What he won’t give you is that quick bend around the edge or terrific ability to drop into coverage But he can play DE in their 4-3 looks and has just enough ability to cover to check that box.
First, can you let readers know what you’ve been doing since your 2013 season?
I’m working now at IBM with their analytics software. I did an internship during the lockout in the finance world and was a finance major in college, but the hours of a finance job were over the top for what I wanted to focus on so I went to IBM.
I enjoy solving problems. Helping companies with cost reduction and new revenue generation is something I like to do. I like helping solve problems – just like punting. You have a problem with field position, I can help you!
Steelers Photographer Michael Fabus: “I used to fly with Dan Rooney in his airplane. I’d take pictures of this or that for him – of the landscape… I’d move side by side to get the pictures. When we landed I looked green, Dan said. I just told him I needed to get my feet on the ground. Chuck would go to sometimes and he told me he had an airplane seat. He said he wanted me to sit in the seat that hung outside of the plane door – and that once I got in it he’d hand me the camera! I said no! He might have been kidding…I’m not sure.”
Steelers Dr. Joseph Maroon:“It was also with the support of Chuck Noll and Mr. Dan Rooney that ImPACT was not only developed but spread throughout the NFL due to Dan Rooney’s personal intercession with Paul Tagliabue informing him of the system we had developed to evaluate concussions.”
First, can you let readers know what you ate doing with yourself now?
I’m working in the athletic development department at Michigan State as the Senior Associate Director of Athletics. I’ve been with he university for over eighteen years. Most of that time was as the Lieutenant of the Michigan State police department.
How did you make that jump from police to working for the AD Department?
Yeah – I went the non-traditional route. As an officer I used to run workshops on character development for the student athletes. As a former student athlete, I helped those individuals understand the laws and to leave the school with usable benefits for their entire life. After years of doing these workshops I was asked to be on the search committee for a new head coach inn 2007. The then AD Mark Hollier asked me afterwards if I wanted to compete for the job I have now and I did.
First, can you let readers know what you’ve been doing since our time in the NFL – are you still trying to get back in the game?
I’m done with the game – I officially retied. I’m in medical device sales now, working for a company based out of Clearwater, Florida.
Was it tough leaving the game?
Not at all. I always worked on a backup plan – I knew the NFL would not be forever. I sold insurance in the offseason and got my Adjusting license. I always looked for what was a good fit for me and found it.
Look, I’m not trying to “throw shade” at Dont’a Hightower. He’s a very good inside linebacker for what he does -an incredibly formidable run stopper. But many fans are excited about the prospect of bringing in Dont’a Hightower to start over Vince Williams, and I’m not understanding why.
I’m just not sure that he brings $8-10 million per year value – and that is his minimum price tag.
I’m digging into the numbers. Over five years, he’s defended twelve passes. And has zero interceptions. As a comparison, Lawrence Timmons, who most felt comfortable seeing walk at $6 million per year, has eight interceptions (including two last season) and 22 passes defensed.
And his draft scouting report supports his coverage issues:
Ok – so I get it. It’s because he was asked to blitz so much more than Timmons was. He wasn’t asked to cover.
So, the Steelers tried to land a big fish in ILB Dont’a Hightower. Some read that as the team’s perceived need to upgrade the ILB spot with Timmons’ departure in free agency. I don’t.
I see it purely as the team having tried to seize an opportunity to land what they consider to be an elite player at an affordable price. Regardless of whether I think Hightower would have been effective in coverage (stats/draft bios say no), I don’t think they considered ILB a need position with Vince Williams manning the helm. I just think they saw an opportunity to try and leverage. Williams is otherwise perfectly adequate there.
First, can you let readers know about your legal career – how you got started and how you began as well as an NFL legal intern?
Well I got hurt early in my career – my third or fourth game – I can’t remember – probably blocked it out. I tore my knee up – had nerve and ligament damage and couldn’t play again.
I was in rehab – and had surgeries to get it fixed and realized I couldn’t play again. I was planning on going to law school – I talked to Marvin Lewis, Cowher, and Mr. Rooney about my next steps, and Mr. Rooney – I guess he liked me enough. He thought I was a smart guy and offered me a position in the front office. They still owed me money so he offered to pay me a little more to work for them and go to law school at night at Duquesne. They were very involved I think then with Duquesne University.
Well, I wanted to stay in football, and I was probably a little depressed at the time, on reflection. I didn’t want to stay in Pittsburgh – it was all ‘t.still too raw. I was twenty-three, maybe twenty-four at the time. I still wanted to play, but obviously I couldn’t.