View Full Version : Steelers draft solid ... in '05

05-16-2010, 01:53 AM
Steelers draft solid ... in '05
Sunday, May 16, 2010
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Time again for my quasi-annual column analyzing the Steelers' draft, a column that is not, as some would protest, three and a half weeks late, but rather right on time when you consider it's been roughly five years since the draft I'm analyzing.

Since football executives like to tell you that you really can't fully analyze a draft until four or five years out, I've come up with this exclusive patent-pending system called waiting to see how things work out. It has failed to get me a gig as a draft expert on ESPN, where winners and losers in the draft are identified before the picks even have posed properly with their jerseys and explained their tattoos, but that probably has as much to do with how different I look from Hannah Storm.

Anyway, for a draft in which they extracted 37.5 percent of the crop from notorious football coldbeds Northwestern and Temple, the 2005 Steelers did all right, no thanks to Fred Gibson. Coming off a 15-1 season in which they evidenced no real needs except maybe to win an AFC championship game once in awhile, the Steelers took Gibson in the fourth round to help ease the transition away from Plaxico Burress.
Class of 2005

Everyone agreed Gibson, a 6-4 wideout out of Georgia, was a great value in the fourth round at the time, mostly because he could "stretch the field." It didn't seem to matter that he was less successful at stretching a dollar, which is perhaps why he sold his Southeast Conference championship ring, an NCAA violation. Who knew?

If Gibson could stretch the field, he wasn't terribly interested in stretching it across the middle, nor in stretching his attention span to such parameters that he could actually learn how to play. Last seen, he was on the roster of the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, an NBA development league team, after being cut by the Atlanta Falcons and failing to launch with the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, St. Louis Rams and Edmonton Eskimos.

Maybe he should retry the jewelry business.

Fortunately, the Steelers got a tremendous receiver three picks earlier, a tight end who was still available when they picked 30th partly because of a sports hernia, and partly because it wasn't regarded as all that impressive that he caught a 52-yard touchdown pass against Pitt that year in the Continental Tire Bowl.

But Heath Miller remains among Kevin Colbert's finest first-round picks, ending a dark era when the tight end was virtually ignored in the Pittsburgh offense. You may have heard that the Steelers have won two Super Bowls since installing the quiet 6-5, 255-pound clinician up front, and despite a roster replete with NFL stars, there have more than a handful of days in those five years when Heath Miller has been the best player on the field.

There were plenty of future Pro Bowlers still on the board, including guard Logan Mankins of the New England Patriots, but Colbert and Bill Cowher knew when it was Miller time.

In the second round, the Steelers selected Bryant McFadden, a Florida State cornerback who developed just quickly enough to contribute mightily once Super Bowl 43 came around, by which time he was so impressive the Arizona Cardinals threw $10 million at him and lured him to the desert in his walk year. He has since been traded back to the Steelers, a poor indication of how he was playing late last season. But the Steelers are thrilled because they're fairly desperate in the secondary and because McFadden has a thorough understanding of Dick LeBeau's defense.

And it's pretty clear what that means. When McFadden gets beaten deep, at least he'll know why.

But that's where the 2005 Steelers draft started spinning off course. The third pick was Northwestern tackle Trai Essex, who had been the Northwestern tight end until he ate himself across the 300 threshold and into the interior line. Essex, despite plenty of opportunity, has failed to establish himself as a starter in five seasons. The Steelers reached for him, too. I don't remember anyone saying he was even a fourth-round pick.

Next came Gibson, then Rian Wallace, a linebacker from Temple. Wallace returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown in a 2006 game, but not even the tutelage of Larry Foote and James Farrior triggered enough development in him. He was last seen professionally on the roster of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

With the sixth pick, the Steelers tapped Uikelotu Kemoeatu, or Chris as his friends call him. Kemoeatu was a highly offensive lineman and an anger management major at Utah, where he'd drawn a suspension after being ejected from consecutive games for kicking people.

The No. 1 pick in the draft that year was the quarterback Kemoeatu protected, Alex Smith. Smith's opinion was that Kemoeatu was so superior he should have been taken in the first round. Too bad Kemoeatu couldn't have offered the San Francisco 49ers the opinion that Smith should have been taken in the sixth round. In hindsight, that would have prevented a lot of Bay Area hand-wringing.

Kemoeatu eventually made himself into a starter, if not a terribly good one.

Pittsburgh's final two picks met the fate of many teams' final two picks. Brigham Young defensive end Shaun Nua never played and was last seen in Buffalo, and Northwestern running back Noah Herron went on to brief stays on the margins of the Cleveland Browns, the Green Bay Packers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New York Jets, the UFL's Hartford Colonials, the Radio City Rockettes and the North Atlantic Tuna Advisory Board.


For all that, the 2005 Steelers draft earned a B-.

No need to thank me.

Back to you, Hannah.

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05-16-2010, 08:04 AM
Not sure I would even give it a B-....maybe more like a C+. If not for Miller, this draft would have ranked near the bottom in terms of contribution. The fact that some of these players are not even in football shows how glaring the 'misses' were in '05.

I think Miller will be a key piece in the passing game this year due to the lack of a true #1 WR. If the OL can keep the pass rush at bay, this team will win some games on Miller alone.

05-16-2010, 02:40 PM
when i came home from school with a B- on my report card, my parents did not turn to me and say "Solid!"

05-16-2010, 05:18 PM
And yet Nate Washington is (once again) skipped when it comes to this draft.

It did take some time for Washington to develop - however last time I checked he was a starting WR in this league.