The League

Rob Rang
Draft Guru

Rob Rang

Senior Analyst for NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com

QB Over Safety

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There are few, if any, defensive players in the NFL better suited to their job than Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu. The 5-10, 210 pound Polamalu proved his raw speed when posting a 4.35 time in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day (he didn't run at the Combine), but is even faster on the field due to his instincts. With the league's most aggressive and productive pass rush in front of him, he's allowed to freelance a bit on the field, taking advantage of his unique ability to find -- and more importantly predict where the ball is going. The combination of his own ability and the manner in which defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau uses him makes Polamalu a future Hall of Famer.

Ben Roethlisberger, however, is more critical to the success of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The quarterback position is undeniably the most important in football. Safety, on the other hand, may be the least important. A reliable open field tackler with the speed for coverage could be successful playing in back of Pittsburgh's awesome front seven -- not Polamalu successful, mind you, but capable of playing well enough that the Steelers could win ball games.

Without Roethlisberger's unique combination of size, arm strength and most importantly -- poise in the pocket -- this is a below average Pittsburgh offense. Roethlisberger is certainly helped by a young playmaker in Santonio Holmes, one of the best all-around receivers of all time in Hines Ward (though he's even slower now than ever), and among the most under-appreciated tight ends in the game in Heath Miller. With only marginal talent at running back and along the offensive line, however, Roethlisberger is the engine that makes the offense go.

There is no denying his success is tied to the same defense that has helped make Polamalu so productive. I am of the opinion that Roethlisberger, due to his two Super Bowl victories (in which he's been mostly marginally effective), has actually become a bit overrated by most fans.

However, as he's proven with his NFL-leading 18 comeback victories over his career, few have the ability to rack up W's like Big Ben -- and that, of course, is why he's the most important single player for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

By Rob Rang  |  September 11, 2009; 12:54 AM ET  | Category:  Pittsburgh Steelers , Tennessee Titans Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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