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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Dont’a pass up impact linebacker


Brief and to the Point …

>> By the time the Steelers get to the 24th pick, they’ll probably have known which player they’ll take … for about five minutes. By all accounts, this isn’t one of those drafts where everything just falls into place. Kevin Colbert said there are about 10 guys who are sure first-rounders, and the rest are in the eye of the beholder. Seems to match most forecasts.

The two names that have come up most often with the Steelers are Alabama middle linebacker Dont’a Hightower and Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe. And a big reason for that, be sure, is that both line up with positional needs.

Assuming all things are equal in terms of talent between these two, I’d rather have this guy …

That’s Hightower.

Just looks like an impact linebacker, doesn’t he?

If that isn’t enough of a scouting report for you, here’s a lot more.

Stevenson Sylvester is going to get a look at taking James Farrior’s place, but it’s almost certain that Larry Foote will be the inside starter next to Lawrence Timmons. Neither Sylvester nor Foote is an impact type, not the way Timmons can be (when he performs better than he did last season). Give me two studs in the middle, match them with LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison on the outside, and you’re talking about one whale of a linebacking corps.

By comparison, the nose tackle isn’t even on the field more than 40 percent of the time in the modern NFL, with all the nickel defenses necessary for four-wide sets.

Then again, maybe the Steelers will surprise everyone and take … nah, won’t even say it.

>> Going to get a head start on repeating this all summer long: There is no earthly reason to speculate on the future of Jordan Staal until the NHL has a new labor agreement.


If the cap were to rise, Staal can be signed, assuming he’s amenable. I believe he will. If the cap stays the same, what I hear from the Penguins is they can make it work. If the cap gets blown up — and remember, Don Fehr’s in charge of the players’ union now — then we’re in for a wholly new discussion.

>> James McDonald is the type of pitcher who torments almost as much as he tantalizes. He took that no-hitter into the seventh, but realistically he wouldn’t have had a crack at the no-hitter even if Troy Tulowitzki hadn’t gotten that infield hit. Not with his pitch count at 101 following the seventh.

It would take an act of God to get the Pirates to top 120 with anyone at any point in the season.

>> I have all kinds of stuff to say about Pedro Alvarez’s day, but I’m saving it for the Friday column.

>> Our weekly chat is today at noon, website willing.

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