View Full Version : Clock ticking for 2008 draft class

10-03-2009, 10:25 PM
Clock ticking for 2008 draft class
October 3rd, 2009
http://blog.triblive.com/view-from-the- ... aft-class/ (http://blog.triblive.com/view-from-the-press-box/2009/10/03/clock-ticking-for-2008-draft-class/)

I had a chance to talk to NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock earlier in the week – and specifically to ask him how long you have to wait before a draft can be accurately evaluated. It is a pertinent question when it comes to the Steelers, who have gotten very little from their 2008 class.

First-rounder Rashard Mendenhall and second-rounder Limas Sweed have disappointed for different reasons. Third-rounder Bruce Davis lasted just one season in Pittsburgh, and fourth rounder Tony Hills has been inactive for every game he has been a member of the team. Fifth-rounder Dennis Dixon has shown promise, though he’ll never be more than a backup here, and sixth rounder Ryan Mundy could be the eventual starter at free safety. To this point, it can be argued that Patrick Bailey, a special teams standout, has been the best among the players the Steelers either drafted or signed as free agents in 2008.

That brings us back to Mayock. He said it takes three years to truly evaluate how a team did on draft day, and the Steelers’ 2008 class is not to the halfway point of that mark. The clock, however, is ticking, especially for Mendenhall and Sweed. The latter may not even dress against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday after he had another untimely drop in a 23-20 loss to the Bengals. The Steelers have no choice but to lean on Mendenhall, who followed the best game of his young career by practicing so poorly last week that coach Mike Tomlin didn’t play him on offense against the Bengals. With starting running back Willie Parker out because of turf toe, Mendenhall should get plenty of work against the Chargers even if he shares carries with Mewelde Moore.

Needless to say, it is time for the former first-round pick to step up. Mayock said he “was a Mendenhall guy” when the former Illinois star was rated as one of the top running backs in the 2008 draft. But he also said something that makes a lot of sense given the demotion that Mendenhall received last week.

“The caveat to him coming out of college was he had a little bit of a star-crossed career off the field with his coaching staff and other people at Illinois. The question was does he have a passion for the game? What’s his work ethic?” Mayock said. “He’s such a talented kid but some guys get, and I’m not saying this is him because it’s too early, but some guys who just don’t love the game of football get a big paycheck and pretty much put it on cruise control.

“I’m hoping Mendenhall is not one of those guys. I’m hoping he wakes up and decides he needs to come to work and outwork everybody on the field every day if he ever wants to realize his potential.”

As for Sweed, Mayock said he was “lukewarm” on the former Texas wide receiver because of questions about his commitment to football. Steelers wide receiver Randy Fichtner defended Sweed earlier this week, saying he “works his tail off.” But the Steelers are clearly losing patience with Sweed, who gets open but has shown an inability to finish plays. It’s all about production at this level, which means the headliners of the Steelers’ 2008 draft better start, well, producing. Otherwise, they will be the biggest reasons why the class is eventually labeled a collective bust.