- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Ravens reporter
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Our friends at Football Outsiders have gone beyond the generic "top needs" that you see associated with teams heading into the draft. They examine "pillar needs," which are described as ones that a team always need because they are the foundation of their scheme and philosophy. So, this doesn't mean that these are needs that the teams will address in the first or second round because they need a starter. A pillar need is a trait that teams seek in the middle rounds when looking to restock their depth.
This is an Insider post, so you'll need a subscription to view the entire report. But I can give you an excerpt of what Andy Benoit of Football Outsiders wrote about the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals:
BENGALS: Athletic defensive linemen. This is essential for the Bengals because they do so much zone-blitzing. Most 4-3 defenses don't run these blitzes because it requires a certain athleticism from defensive linemen. Football Outsiders: "They must be able to explode off the ball, redirect into a backpedal, change directions laterally and move well in space. The more linemen a team has who can do this, the more diverse its zone blitz packages can be. Zimmer's Bengals are diverse enough to use overload zone blitzes, meaning multiple linemen drop back."
STEELERS: Strong tackling cornerbacks. The Steelers don't usually draft cornerbacks in the first round because they're not looking for elite speed or agility. The last cornerback taken in the first two rounds by Pittsburgh was Bryant McFadden and that was eight years ago. Pittsburgh is looking for smart, physical and aggressive corners. Football Outsiders: "(A Steelers cornerback) must be smart enough to understand the matchup zone assignments (which includes not just knowing the defense but also diagnosing the offense's route designs) and he must be a willing, sound tackler who can also jam receivers in situations that require press-man coverage (such as third-and-short)."
Our friends at Football Outsiders have gone beyond the generic "top needs" that you see associated with teams heading into the draft. They examine "pillar needs," which are described as ones that a team always need because they are the foundation of their scheme and philosophy.