January 18, 2008

Commence Draft Speculation...

"To say you need that position and that it is a glaring need, I don't think it's really fair to that group of guys. That being said, sure you want to add depth -- you realize you can lose two unrestricted free agents, and if you do, maybe that changes your focus as you move forward."
- Kevin Colbert
I guess since the season is over, and the "who's ass is on the line" discussion should be as well, all we've got left now is draft speculation, right? Enter Kevin Colbert, Steelers draft guru and resident Brian Billick look alike (seriously though he really does kind of look like him).

Most recently Colbert somewhat controversially said that the Steelers could be eyeing a Running Back in the 1st round of the upcoming draft. At least it might have been controversial if anyone was paying attention to the Steelers right now besides me and presumably you all. But I guess having heard this, the first question is - would that be a wise use of a marquee pick?

My answer is - probably not.

Personally, I love Willie Parker. However, even I can acknowledge that we just can't give him as many carries as we did this past season and expect him to stay healthy. Frankly, even if he was a more beefy back, there are few runners in this league that can sustain that kind of wear and tear and stay strong through an entire 17 week regular season, not to mention playoffs. It certainly couldn't hurt to draft a back to spell Willie once in a while.

But in the 1st round? I have to say no way. Our biggest need right now is on the Offensive line. Even if Faneca doesn't leave, we are still in desperate need of a capable Center. And I'm not all that confident the Steelers will re-sign Max Starks either, in which case we could use a good Left Tackle. So while I understand the philosophy, I would have to respectfully disagree with Colbert there (should he make that kind of decision).

As far as I can tell, our priorities should lie thusly:

1. O Line ~ you can disregard some of the sacks Ben took this year as being the result of either him holding the ball too long or receivers not getting open, but it's pretty clear that our #1 priority ought to be protecting our Pro Bowl QB. Not to mention blocking for our Pro Bowl running back. That's just how I see it.

2. Wide Receiver ~ Ben recently insinuated that it's tough for him to throw to a lot of the Steelers current receivers since he's, well, 6'5," and most of them are well, less than 6'5". Plus, Cedrick Wilson was pretty worthless this season anyhow. So hopefully we can drop that dead weight and get a guy in the 2nd or 3rd round that's over 6'1". Why not?

3. Kick Returner ~ actually, this could even be combined with #2. Nonetheless, you've seen what guys like Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs can do for a team. The role of the return man has taken on new meaning in this NFL era, and the Steelers would be apt not to let this pass them by. I can't even imagine how happy I would be to watch a Steeler run back one or more kicks/punts for a TD. Can you? (and no one even mention Rossum's run back this year...that ain't what I'm talking about)

4. Fullback ~ Dan Kreider's injury was no joke. At 30, he certainly isn't getting any younger, and the possibility exists that his best playing days have passed him by. Carey Davis is ok, but I was never really sold on him to begin with. I just think if you're not going to hand the ball to him or throw him a few screens, why waste a roster spot? The fullback is a blocking back in my mind. There is no substitute for a Dan Kreider type fullback. Hence, I strongly suggest the Steelers try and grab Owen Schmitt. Objections?

5. Defensive End ~ let's just say hypothetically that Aaron Smith isn't the same man he once was. We all bore witness to what Nick Eason/Travis Kirschke could do near the end of this season. And while it wasn't awful, clearly neither are the answer at DE. My assessment of this sitch is that with Keisel's speed and power on the one side and Casey Hampton/Chris Hoke tieing up multiple guys in the middle, we should be looking to get another pass rushing DE. Just a feeling. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

6. Free Safety ~ obviously Ryan Clark has some durability issues. Tyrone Carter ain't a long term solution, and Anthony Smith...well, he really let a lot of us down this year (not to say he can't come roaring back next year). So I just think it would be great to add some depth here and get another strong guy back there to help out our Corners. Troy is so all over the place that we need a Safety who isn't going to get tricked easily. A Safety that is ready to make a play in coverage at any time. And it wouldn't hurt if he hit people, hard. Suggestions?

And there you have it, the quick and dirty OFTOT "unofficial 2008 draft needs." However, this all being said - I admittedly have not spent nearly enough time scouting prospects to be able to rank our needs versus this years draft pool (minus the RB spot as mentioned).

So I make you all a solemn promise that over the next couple months I will do my best to read/watch as much as I can and report back to you all that I glean. Too bad I don't have NFL Network...that really sucks. Guess I'll have to rely on Domski to step up and scout the NFL Network. Then again, I'm still not sure he knows how to navigate the internets, so that may be of no use whatsoever. Everyone keep your fingers crossed and someone teach him how to use a keyboard...

Your turn dudes and dudettes (do any women even read this blog? BnG Girl?) - Who/What are your draft wants/needs for the team in April? Any gems you think no one has thought to mention yet? You think the Steelers would consider drafting a 26 year old, 6'2" 180 lb. nerd who writes a Steeler blog?

PS - Happy freakin' Friday! Hope you all are as excited as I am about the weekend. Go Chargers/Packers!

Steelers Eye Several Positions for 1st Round [Post-Gazette]
Steelers Must Address O-Line Draft [Tribune-Review]
Steelers to Eye RB in Draft? [Behind The Steel Curtain]
Mock No. 1... [Nonstop Steelers]

Ballhype: hype it up!


domski43 said...

I still feel that, like Mike Mahock (sp?) on NFL network says, go for the best available player in the first round of the draft. So, if it is a running back, lets go for him. I really like Rashard Mendenhall from Illinois, but that might be a big stretch depending on our draft position. He reminds me of Jones-Drew and would be a great change up to Willie, and would add longevity to both players careers.
But, if I could choose anyone for the steelers it would have to be jake long out of michigan. The steelers would have to sell the barn to move up to get him, but Ben's blindside would be protected for the next 10-12 years.
Welcome back cotter!

TheBigMan said...

The only change to the list I would recommend is move DE up to the second spot behind OL. When Aaron Smith went down last year the defense went form the leagues best to average at best. We need depth on the DL just like we needed Linebacker depth last year. IMHO the draft shold go OL/DL, OL/DL for the first 2 rounds.

Big Snack said...

Actually, I agree with domski, Jake Long is the real deal and would go a long, long way toward fixing what ails our offensive line.

The whole Owen Schmidt thing sounds good, but the question is how high does he go? I wouldn't use anything above a 4th or 5th on him...

And at DE, I think we need another run stuffer like Smith, not a strictly pass-rush guy...I think Woodley is going to surprise a lot of people next year and be a very good, if not dominant LB, as he showed flashes of brilliance this this season...Plus a DE who is a pass rush guy screws with the whole theme and concept of a 3-4, and unless Tomlin's switchin to a 4-3, it may not be a wise choice...

Come on Cotter, I thought you knew better then that...How was your bday big guy?

PS - we went out to celebrate my boys bday last night at Rumshakers when who walks in the door but Matt Spaeth...of course we were too drunk to confirm it was him, so when he was leaving I yelled out "Spaeth, you're the shit", he turned, gave me the "you're the man" point and walked out...He was with a fine lookin lady too...well played big man.

tobiathan said...

If we can get Owen Schmidtt I say we won't need that RB. In fact, I personally think Schmidtt would be worth a second-round pick, since we'll be on the low end of the draft as a playoff team. But we truly do need a good, strong back to compliment Willie. Depth in the backfeild is absolutely essential to succeed these days. If Owen is still sitting there in rd. 2 i say we take him.

First round would definitely be a potentially dominant lineman, either offense or defense. We truly need help on both lines.

I also think that Matt Jones, the WR and former QB, who played for Jax last year would be anexcellent match for our offense. We need a big, strong, fast guy at WR and he has great hands. He might be a bargain, too, since DelRio seemed to not want to play him despite his making great plays in the endzone all year.

WVU has a few O-linemen coming out this year. That offensive line was very mobile, and very strong. Being in the Steeler's backyard made them easy to scout too. I look for at least one of those guys in our draft.

I need to look deeper into the possibilities, but i personally think Owen Schmidtt ought to be a priority. He can run very well, hold on to the ball, has speed, broke ELEVEN facemasks last year, can catch like a WR, and is a smart guy.

BTW- Schmidtt cleans-and-presses 550 lbs. That's fucking incredible, like Incredible Hulk-type shit. Totally Steeler-like.

PS- Pittsburgh let go of John Kyhn last preseason. He went on to make Ryan Grant look awesome in GB this year. Let's try to avoid letting go of good RBs just because they happen to be the wrong shade. Seriously.

Cotter said...

domski ~ I'd absolutely love Jake Long in black and gold but I'm willing to bet he won't make it out of the top 10. Fingers crossed though. PS - thank you for mastering the internets...

big man ~ I wouldn't be entirely unhappy if we drafted a DE 2nd. Just because I put it further down the list, I wouldn't consider it the wrong pick to make. You can get great DL talent that high. Would prob be worth it. Thanks for the comment!

snack ~ Believe it or not that's not the first time this week someone has called me a disappointment. Kidding aside, you're right - if the Steelers continue to employ a 3-4 we should prob get a run stuffer. Until recently that's how I felt anyhow, but somewhere along the way someone made a case for a pass rushing end, which intrigued me. As for the bday - celebration continues - last night was power hour, tonight is beer bonging, tomorrow is bar crawl. Nice Spaeth sighting. PS - Buckheads Women's Pudding Wrestling League, sort it out. Find Sandy Sanderson and tell him Cotter sent you.

T ~ Welcome back buddy! I'm saying as far as Schmitt goes, I'm with Snack - if he's there in the 4th round, I saw we take him. Any lower I'm not sure about. But I would def love to get him one way or another. Matt Jones? Yeah, I wouldn't mind him. He's kind of slow but his height would make him a good target for Ben and maybe he could even become the new go to possession receiver once Hines walks away (which may not be for 5 years, who the hell knows).

Anonymous said...

Honestly, the Steelers should make the switch to the 4-3. Look at what the Giants did to people all year with their pass rush. They could move Aaron Smith inside, and rotate him, Casey Hampton, and Chris Hoke. Then keep Keisle at DE, draft one in the 1st/2nd round. See if woodly can move up to DE and rotate in and for linebakcer use Harrison and Foote for other inside/outside spot

domski43 said...

anonymous- agreed..i wouldnt mind it if the steelers switched to a 4-3. I think the ability to play both 4-3 and 3-4 would be an excellent option. chris "hokey pokey" hoke has proven that he can be an effective lineman and with hampton and him dominating the middle would be great. I think we all agree that its time for haggans to move on. Hopefully, timmons will show up next year.

tobiathan - the steelers better check deep into the character of Schmitt...the nfl has learned a lot about the criminals out of wvu..its time for you to stop drinkin the mountaineer kool-aid!!!!...of course i'm just jaggin you around brotha. i think matt jones would look nice in black n' gold. i also feel he was under utilized in jax.

cotter - I'M MATT JONES!!!! he once recorded a 4.4 40, so the speed is there you p.o.s. jake long is a longshot, i really dont have faith we are going to reach that far. i still believe the steelers should have an open practice and allow anyone to walk off the street to remedy the o-line situation. i hear wayne corona is floating around in free agency. But seriously, ben's health and willie's health are priority one. The steelers will not be able to compete with the elite afc teams until the o-line gets it together. A defensive end also has to be in the cards.

Are you cheering for the giants?
I bet the giants fans are more abnoxious than ever...

MDultrarunner said...

I nearly shit myself when I read Colbert's words. A running back in the first round? Really? Is his effing high?

Look around the league at the top running backs or those that have made an impact and tell me how many of them have come in the first round. Grant, Bradshaw, Jacobs...where did they come from? Hell, look at FWP! He was undrafted and look what he turned into! I'm not a big fan of Peter King, but I do agree with him when it comes to running backs--they're easily replaceable, and a team shouldn't waste a high draft pick on a back that's going to take a beating week-in and week-out. If the Steelers want a change-up to FWP, pick up a decent third-rounder and let him develop.

I'm glad to see you've taken my suggestion, Cotter. Pick up Schmitt, a projected 4th or 5th rounder, in the 3rd round, and let him block, catch, and pick up short yardage. The kid's a beast, and I love the mohawk.

First and second rounds should be devoted to O-line and D-line. I'd love to see Jake Long come into the fold, but I doubt that's going to happen. He'll be high first-rounder, and I don't see the Steelers trading up to get him, considering they need all their picks in lieu of all their needs.

I'd love to see them draft a tall receiver who Ben could just toss it up to. Ben might be able to throw that fade into the endzone and complete it for a change...instead of throwing to Nate Washington.

I don't know if they can afford to look for a replacement for Clark just yet. There are just too many other needs--like a kick returner, as you mentioned.