INDIANAPOLIS -- To be sure, there are age and depth issues on the defensive line and at linebacker. And the horrid performance during a five-game losing streak that cost the Steelers a playoff spot screams for a cornerback who can make plays.
But coach Mike Tomlin said he is not ready to concede the Steelers have more issues to address on defense than offense. He did say, however, there are two positions on offense that aren't getting much attention from the Steelers at the NFL Scouting Combine.
"We've all agreed that we have a level of interest in all positions, other than quarterback and tight end," Tomlin said Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium. "Other than those two positions, we're open to anything. It's tough to say at this point that defense is a priority more than offense, but there's good depth on defense in this draft."
Tomlin said the Steelers would not rule out drafting a running back or wide receiver with the 18th overall pick if a player they had rated high was available.
"No question," he said. "We will look at all areas."
The Steelers do not have a pressing need for a wide receiver, not with Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward and Mike Wallace. But that didn't stop them from interviewing a player who is something of a Ward clone -- Notre Dame's Golden Tate.
Tate met with members of the coaching staff Friday night, and Tomlin referred to him and Idaho offensive guard Mike Iupati as "two impressive men." Iupati, who ran a 5.26 Saturday in the 40-yard dash, was among the players who met with the Steelers Thursday.
The Steelers likely won't take Tate in the first round, only because they have more pressing needs. But if he somehow slipped to the second, and he could because of his size and speed, the Steelers might be tempted to take him.
Tate compares himself to Carolina's Steve Smith, but he is also a Ward-type player -- tough, physical and runs well after the catch. He is also a little faster than Ward, who will be 34 in March.
A former running back who was converted to receiver, Tate wears a wristband that reads "Don't Be Satisfied." He said he tries to live by that motto every day.
"I don't just want to be drafted," Tate said. "I want to help a team play in the Super Bowl. I want to play in the Pro Bowl. I want to be in the Hall of Fame. I want to be great."
Not surprisingly, Pitt's Dorin Dickerson was one of the stars of the workout Saturday, running the fastest 40-yard time for tight ends (4.40) and finishing fourth with 24 reps in the 225-pound bench press.
But, at 6 feet 1, 225, Dickerson is too small to be a tight end and likely not fast enough to be a wide receiver in the NFL. He said he will have to add at least 15 pounds to be a flex tight end such as Indianapolis' Dallas Clark and San Francisco's Vernon Davis.
And he will have to improve his blocking.
When asked what NFL personnel will want to see, Dickerson said, "Probably my strength, and my position drills as a blocker, too; that's what they're really going to want to see, to see if I can actually block, which I can."
Gerry Dulac: firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published February 28, 2010 5:00 AM