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fordfixer
04-30-2009, 11:11 PM
Steelers Once Again Plan for Tomorrow

http://nfl.fanhouse.com/2009/04/30/stee ... -tomorrow/ (http://nfl.fanhouse.com/2009/04/30/steelers-once-again-plan-for-tomorrow/)

Posted Apr 30, 2009 8:12AM By JJ Cooper

When you're picking No. 32, you can't expect the draft to be flashy, but you can expect it to be productive. Of the last 10 final picks of the first round, eight of them became solid starters including Todd Heap, Al Wilson, Mathias Kiwanuka and Anthony Gonzalez.

This definitely wasn't a flashy draft for the Steelers. Barring injury, Evander Hood, Pittsburgh's first-round pick, won't be starting until 2010 at the earliest. If third-round pick Kraig Urbik (right) doesn't beat out Darnell Stapleton for a starting guard job, no rookie will likely start for the Steelers this year.

But this draft isn't about the 2009 season, it's about 2010 and 2011, just like the 2008 draft was all about the 2009 season and 2010. Last year's first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall would have had little impact last year even if he hadn't gotten hurt, but this year he'll be the No. 2 tailback who will be prepping to take over next year when Willie Parker's current contract expires. Wide receiver Limas Sweed, last year's second-round pick, will be expected to be the No. 3 receiver this year after serving a one-year apprenticeship. It was the same way with the 2007 draft, as top two picks LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons didn't start until year two (and year three in Timmons' case). Santonio Holmes, the 2006 first-round pick, started only four games as a rookie.

So this draft won't be accurately judged for a couple of years, but you can definitely see where the Steelers are going. This wasn't a year where the Steelers could just draft the best available player. They aimed to get value, but there was a focus in this year's draft on acquiring players who have a clear path to make the team.

Heading into training camp, there are clear roster spots for all but two of the Steelers' nine draft picks, and those other two, defensive tackle Ra'Shon Harris and tight end David Johnson, will both go into camp with a clear shot at battling a veteran for a job.

Defensive linemen Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton are both free agents after the 2009 season, so by drafting Hood, the Steelers now have Plan A to replace Keisel, and Harris could give the team a swing nose tackle/defensive end backup if he develops. Eventually wide receiver Hines Ward will get old, so by drafting Mike Wallace, there is the hope that he can grow into Nate Washington's No. 3 receiver role if Limas Sweed can eventually handle the No. 2 receiver job.

The Steelers' secondary is getting older, with Deshea Townsend turning 34 this season and starting corner Ike Taylor is getting ready to turn 29. By drafting Keenan Lewis and Cap Burnett, Pittsburgh has two possibilities to eventually step in and contribute either as starters or nickel and dime backs.

Frank "The Tank" Summers fills the roster spot opened up when Gary Russell was waived and hopefully gives Pittsburgh the consistent big back it's lacked since Jerome Bettis retired. David Johnson will battle Sean McHugh for the fullback/third tight end role.

And on the offensive line, the Steelers did work to improve the team's weakest link. Many Steelers fans are unhappy that Pittsburgh didn't add an offensive tackle, but the interior of the offensive line is just as much of a concern. By acquiring Ubrik and A.J. Shipley, Pittsburgh picked up one player who could start this year (Ubrik) and one who could step in next year if he shows he's ready to start when Justin Hartwig hits free agency after next season.

Now we just need to find out if the draftees can play.

Draft Picks

1 (32) Hood, DT, Missouri
3 (79) Urbik, OT/OG, Wisconsin
3 (84) Wallace, WR, Mississippi
3 (96) Lewis, CB, Oregon State
5 (168) Burnett, CB, Central Florida
5 (169) Summers, RB, UNLV
6 (205) Harris, DT, Oregon
7 (226) Shipley, C, Penn State
7 (241) Johnson, TE/FB, Arkansas State

Grade: B. Not flashy, but this draft should help make the free-agent losses after the season less painful.

Jooser
05-01-2009, 06:26 AM
Nice. I think that assessment is accurate. This draft definitely is about the future for the most part. This type of draft is becoming a Tomlin trademark. But, then again, hasn't this really been the Steelers way for years?

Oviedo
05-01-2009, 07:40 AM
Good read. I think this draft will show that you don't need to draft OL and CB in Round 1 to get solid players.

phillyesq
05-01-2009, 09:47 AM
Good read. I think this draft will show that you don't need to draft OL and CB in Round 1 to get solid players.

I think Ike, Deshea and Gay have all demonstrated that you can get good CBs in the middle rounds. I think that you can find interior offensive lineman later in the draft, but I don't think that you find many good OTs after rounds 1 and 2.

The article in general was a good read. This draft really addressed both current depth issues and future needs. I also like that it should immediately address the return game.

pfelix73
05-01-2009, 09:51 AM
Not so sure about that. Max was drafted where? 2nd or 3rd round? and he's an NFL starting LT now. M. Smith was a second rounder too. And the jury is out on Hills. I think he has some potential to at least take over that RT spot sometime soon.

:tt1

Oviedo
05-01-2009, 10:37 AM
Good read. I think this draft will show that you don't need to draft OL and CB in Round 1 to get solid players.

I think Ike, Deshea and Gay have all demonstrated that you can get good CBs in the middle rounds. I think that you can find interior offensive lineman later in the draft, but I don't think that you find many good OTs after rounds 1 and 2.

The article in general was a good read. This draft really addressed both current depth issues and future needs. I also like that it should immediately address the return game.

Unfortunately the only way to get "good" OTs in Round 1 is to suck. Good OTs are usually gone in the Top 10 picks. I would choose not to be picking there.

phillyesq
05-01-2009, 11:40 AM
Not so sure about that. Max was drafted where? 2nd or 3rd round? and he's an NFL starting LT now. M. Smith was a second rounder too. And the jury is out on Hills. I think he has some potential to at least take over that RT spot sometime soon.

:tt1

Starks was drafted in the third round. He is an adequate starting LT. Colon was drafted in the 4th. He is a mediocre, at best, RT. You can find OTs in the third round and later, but it is hard to find a good OT after the first and second. I think that it is much easier to find a good guard or center in the third round or beyond.

pfelix73
05-01-2009, 12:18 PM
I agree with that statement. But every now and then you can find a 'diamond in the rough'- so to speak... I'm holding out hope for Hills.

Maybe I'll go back through the starting OT's from last year and see where they were all drafted.... that is, when I have the chance.....

:tt1

TallyStiller
05-01-2009, 05:43 PM
Hills was considered a potential first rounder based on talent, and dropped because of injury concerns as I recall... he could turn out to be a surprise yet.

NorthCoast
05-02-2009, 08:51 AM
Steelers Once Again Plan for Tomorrow

http://nfl.fanhouse.com/2009/04/30/stee ... -tomorrow/ (http://nfl.fanhouse.com/2009/04/30/steelers-once-again-plan-for-tomorrow/)

Posted Apr 30, 2009 8:12AM By JJ Cooper

When you're picking No. 32, you can't expect the draft to be flashy, but you can expect it to be productive. Of the last 10 final picks of the first round, eight of them became solid starters including Todd Heap, Al Wilson, Mathias Kiwanuka and Anthony Gonzalez.

..........

Speaks volumes. Late round talent with extreme desire beats 1st rd. talent with little heart. One James Harrison and Willie Parker are textbook examples. I think the Steelers excel at finding players with that passion for the game. Make no mistake, there are players that sign that first big contract and the desire fades away or they get confused about their football goals (Plaxico?).

Acero
05-02-2009, 10:24 AM
Good read. I think this draft will show that you don't need to draft OL and CB in Round 1 to get solid players.

I think Ike, Deshea and Gay have all demonstrated that you can get good CBs in the middle rounds. I think that you can find interior offensive lineman later in the draft, but I don't think that you find many good OTs after rounds 1 and 2.

The article in general was a good read. This draft really addressed both current depth issues and future needs. I also like that it should immediately address the return game.

Unfortunately the only way to get "good" OTs in Round 1 is to suck. Good OTs are usually gone in the Top 10 picks. I would choose not to be picking there.

Well, in 96 we were picking 31st and NEEDED a tackle. I won't say his name, but you know who I'm talking about.