View Full Version : Lolley Blog: Steelers wanted Sean Lee, Major Wright

04-24-2010, 02:23 PM
Lolley: Day 2 thoughts
Friday, April 23, 2010
Day 2 thoughts

After passing on selecting a defensive back on day two of the draft, we can only assume the Steelers are happy to let things ride with their current group.

The Steelers apparently feel that second-year players Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett are ready to make a big impact in 2010.

I did find out that there was a great deal of discussion in the second round prior to the team selecting Jason Worilds. Some in the room wanted Penn State's Sean Lee, who was still available.

But it was decided the depth at inside linebacker - where Larry Foote and Keyaron Fox back up Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior - was good enough. They needed an OLB behind James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

And head coach Mike Tomlin loved Worilds. Lee went three picks later to Dallas.

In round three, the Steelers were looking hard at safety Major Wright, but he went seven picks ahead of them to Chicago.

So they decided to instead go for a receiver they see as the heir apparent to Hines Ward, SMU's Emmanuel Sanders.



Day 2: Steelers add depth over need
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer

PITTSBURGH - A day after addressing an obvious need in the opening round of the NFL draft by selecting interior offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers thumbed their noses at conventional wisdom on Day 2.

Despite having a need for at least one defensive back, the Steelers selected outside linebacker Jason Worilds of Virginia Tech in the second round and followed that by picking SMU wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the third round.

Unlike Pouncey, who will battle Trai Essex for a starting position at right guard, Worilds and Sanders were added at positions where the Steelers have solid starters and plenty of depth.

Both, however, will be expected to help a special teams unit that allowed four kickoffs for touchdowns in 2009.

The Steelers project Worilds (6-2, 262), a defensive end at Virginia Tech, as an outside linebacker. He'll initially serve as a backup to James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

Woodley and Harrison were Pro Bowl players in 2009.

Sanders (5-11, 180), meanwhile, joins a wide receiver group that is deep, despite the fact the Steelers traded starter Santonio Holmes to the Jets last week for a fifth-round draft pick after learning he had drawn a four-game suspension from the NFL for his second violation of the league drug policy.

The Steelers return Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Limas Sweed and Tyler Grisham and signed Antwaan Randle El and Arnaz Battle.

Neither draft pick, however, fretted about the possibility of playing behind established veterans.

"It's a dream come true," said Worilds, who legally changed his name from Adjepong following his freshman year.

"With the type of rushes they have, those guys on the edge, I see myself in their mode. LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, physical, explosive types of edge rushers. I'm excited for the opportunity to come in and learn as much as I can from those guys."

Harrison and Woodley were special teams standouts prior to becoming starters and the Steelers have similar expectations for Worilds.

"Since I've been here, we've never had a rookie linebacker start in this system," said linebackers coach Keith Butler, who has been with the Steelers since 2003. "We like to groom them for a couple of years and let them get their feet underneath them. The guys that have been successful here have always been good on special teams for us the first couple of years they've been here. We think this guy will be in that mode."

With Worilds coming from Virginia Tech, which is known for its strong special teams play, that's pretty much a given.

He can also play some defense.

Despite leaving Virginia Tech as a redshirt junior, Worilds recorded 15.5 sacks, 75 quarterback pressures, 34.5 tackles for a loss and forced five fumbles in 41 games, 25 of which were starts.

After recording eight sacks as a sophomore in 2008, he fell off to five in 2009, falling victim to constant double teams and a shoulder injury that required surgery at the end of the season.

But the Steelers timed him at 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his private workouts and he impressed Butler with his football knowledge.

"He probably had one of the best workouts of anybody we've seen," Butler said of the New Jersey native.

Sanders, meanwhile, was very productive at SMU, catching 98 passes for 1,339 yard and seven touchdowns in 2009. He finished his career in head coach June Jones' run-and-shoot system with 285 receptions for 3,791 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also returned punts and kickoffs for the Mustangs during his career.

"He has return value and is a guy who even without return value is still highly valued. But he'll help us on special teams, not only in the return game but in other areas of special teams as well," said Steelers first-year wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery.

"He has the ability to catch the ball and get it north and south. That's something I value very much. ... He is a guy I feel really good about his quickness with the ball in his hands."


04-24-2010, 03:13 PM
Obviously, they didn't want Lee as much as Woirlds. And if they really wanted Wright that badly, they could have moved up to get him--it's not like they didn't have enough picks to do that.

04-24-2010, 03:14 PM
on their site, butler said they liked Lee but they had pretty good depth at ILB, and needed to upgrade at OLB

04-24-2010, 03:16 PM
Obviously, they didn't want Lee as much as Woirlds. And if they really wanted Wright that badly, they could have moved up to get him--it's not like they didn't have enough picks to do that.

Worilds filled more of a need as an OLB and is better on special teams than Sean Lee, but Keith Butler really liked Lee.

"Next came an unknown to some including me, defensive end who will be turned into a linebacker, Jason Worilds from the Virginia Tech University. As they had done so well in the past, more recently with LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons, the Steelers specialize in converting d-ends into great linebackers. Especially the guys with speed and the ability to rush the passer. That would be Worilds. Linebackers coach Keith Butler turned down an offer to go elsewhere this year and he might be glad he stayed so he can coach up his newest protégé. Said Butler:

“We stood up a lot of guys here, you guys know that. Some guys are successful, some guys are not. We believe this guy will be successful. We have two pretty good outside linebackers who are starters right now. We think this kid can come in and help us in terms of depth and on special teams as he learns the defense. You've got an NFL defensive player of the year and another guy who's made the Pro Bowl with him last year. It's going to be hard to get on the field for him next year. Those two guys are pretty extraordinary. They don't like coming off the field, and I don't like taking them off the field. We have a pretty good quartet of guys at inside linebacker. I feel pretty good about that position at this point in time. I feel a lot better about the outside linebacker position with this draft choice. I especially liked Sean Lee. But we need some depth at outside linebacker, and we need better special teams.”

On coming to the ‘Burgh, Worilds:

“It's a dream come true ... I see myself in their mode -- LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, physical, explosive types of edge rushers. I'm excited for the opportunity to come in and learn as much as I can from those guys. Coming from Virginia Tech, we put a premium on special teams. For them to give me an opportunity to compete at any position is an honor.”

The Steelers had Notre Dame’s Golden Tate in for a visit prior to the start of this draft but in the end he wasn’t available in the third round so the Steelers stuck with picking a wide receiver and went with Emmanuel Sanders from Southern Methodist University. Also joining the Steelers coaching staff this year is Wide Receivers Coach Scottie Montgomery and he likes one thing in particular about Sanders.

“Being quick to the tuck. He had the ability to catch the ball and get north-south. I really, really feel good about his quickness with the ball in his hand. I think he is an unbelievable person. Mentally, he's as strong as a lot of guys that I had a chance to be around during this draft process. I think he's coming into a great situation. He's going to be around one of the greatest receivers of all time Ward.”

Sanders’ feelings?

“I feel like I can learn under Hines Ward and become a good receiver there. I'm a very elusive player. Off the ball, I'm very quick.”