View Full Version : When the Steelers Trade Up, Pay Attention

02-05-2009, 11:40 PM
http://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW/Co ... ng2330.htm (http://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW/Commentary/Columns/2008/wilkening2330.htm)

Steelers' plan for Holmes comes together

By Mike Wilkening (mwilkening@pfwmedia.com)
Feb. 5, 2009

There is much to take away from Super Bowl XLIII, but I keep coming back to one point that jingle-jangles in my head like a set of keys trapped in the lining of a winter coat:

When the Steelers trade up for a player in the first round of the draft, you better pay attention.

The Steelers moved up from No. 27 to No. 16 in 2003 to select USC SS Troy Polamalu, who has been a key part of two Super Bowl-winning teams and has a chance to go down as one of the greatest to ever play the position.

Three drafts later, they traded up from No. 32 to No. 25 to select Ohio State WR Santonio Holmes, who is entering the prime of his career as the reigning Super Bowl MVP.

They will select 32nd again this April, one of the few disadvantages of being a Super Bowl champion, not that the Steelers mind. Also, drafting in the second half of Round One has not held back director of football operations of Kevin Colbert in his previous nine drafts at the helm of the Pittsburgh personnel department.

In 2001, the Steelers traded down from No. 16 to 19 for Texas NT Casey Hampton, and all he has done is establish himself as one of the best at his position. The next year, Colbert drafted OG Kendall Simmons 30th overall, and he has been a serviceable starter. In ’05, the Steelers snagged Virginia TE Heath Miller with the No. 30 pick — a steal by any metric. Last year, the Steelers drafted athletic Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall 23rd overall. Although his rookie season was cut short by injury, Mendenhall flashed considerable talent.
NFL Super Bowl XLIII MVP: Steelers WR Santonio Holmes

Santonio Holmes
For that reason, the Steelers will be patient with him, just as they were with Polamalu, who wasn’t a starter as a rookie but rose to stardom in his second season.
They were patient with Holmes, too, and it paid off in Super Bowl XLIII, when he beat the Cardinals’ secondary time and again and was Ben Roethlisberger’s go-to target on Pittsburgh’s final scoring drive. Holmes’ final catch — a six-yard, toe-tapping snag in the right corner of the endzone — forever will be a part of Super Bowl lore.

For most of his first three seasons in Pittsburgh, Holmes mixed moments of brilliance with moments that underscored how far he had left to develop. The latter point was driven home in October, when he was cited for marijuana possession and deactivated for a game. He was talented, but no one was confusing him with Hines Ward when it came to his dependability.

Today, of course, the focus is on Holmes’ bright future, not whether he ever will fulfull his vast potential. Some might say that Holmes has been a different player since hauling in a four-yard TD pass at Baltimore in Week 15 with Ravens FS Ed Reed on his back and the football barely, as it was ultimately judged, over the goal line. Ever since, Holmes has been a difference maker.

We usually can’t pinpoint exactly when someone has changed, but we generally know when we see it. Actions, not words, are most illustrative. In the final minutes of Super Bowl XLIII, Santonio Holmes carried himself like Hines Ward’s worthy successor. He looked every bit like the player Colbert thought he was staking his draft on three years ago.