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Thread: Predicted odds on who the Steelers take at #18

  1. #11
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    Re: Predicted odds on who the Steelers take at #18

    Quote Originally Posted by Dee Dub
    Here's my prediction...

    Steelers will still draft Sean Weatherspoon simply because he will be the highest rated on their board at 18. Then they will cut James Farrior. The signing of Foote enables the Steelers to not rush Weatherspoon.
    Interesting idea-

    The signing of Foote, does allow for transitioning Timmons to the Buck.

    I don't think they'd cut Farrior this season though. Maybe just ask him to re-structure??

    I used to think they were targeting Williams in 1- but now, the more I look at it...

    I think they'll try to trade down in the 1st and up in the 2nd.

    I think the targets will be

    CB and C/G in either order.

  2. #12
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    Re: Predicted odds on who the Steelers take at #18

    He is right about McClain. I've liked Spoon more since the Senior Bowl. McClain "lumbers" to the ball. He has poor change of direction and is more of a wrap up guy. He should be more physical at that size but what I see is a guy afraid to motor though a player because of the fear of the guy making a cut and getting away from him. There is alot of Bama footage on youtube where you see McClain going through the motions when plays go outside...No pursuit. Mcclain reminds me of an athletic 3-4 DE trying to play ILB. Run between the tackles at him...He will be stout. Make him run to the football...It is trouble. If he has to start & stop coming off blocks, change direction to shoot a gap, or even break down when the RB changes direction...He will be out of the play. He looks like a big truck with bad brakes when he plays football.



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    Re: Predicted odds on who the Steelers take at #18

    Quote Originally Posted by JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    Wexell is absolutely the best of the Steelers' writers. No one else is close. If he says something it has a basis in fact.

    With Steelers turning to the draft, we do too



    By Jim Wexell
    Publisher SteelCityInsider.com
    Posted Mar 16, 2010



    | More

    SCI.com publisher Jim Wexell puts odds on the seven-player pool he believes the Steelers will choose from in the first round of the 2010 draft.

    The Larry Foote signing put a close to the Steelersí free agency season. Of course, Kevin Colbert said heíll keep his eyes open, but told reporters that ďthe focus is going to shift more heavily toward the draft.Ē
    We can do that. The Foote signing was a final piece of the pre-draft puzzle as we get around to posting odds on the Steelersí first-round pick.

    From the longshots to the favorite, hereís what my instincts are telling me:

    18-1 Ė Jared Odrick, DE, Penn State: I watched this guy all year and was captivated by his height, quickness and relentless motor. No, he was not a two-gapper, but I strongly doubt that Aaron Smith was a two-gapper during his days at Northern Colorado. He was taught, and so can Odrick. But the rest of the draft analysts donít seem to share my enthusiasm on Odrick anyway. And even if Mike Tomlin shows up at Penn Stateís Pro Day and shouts out encouragement as he did to Quentin Groves a few years ago, I donít see a two-man position receiving a second consecutive No. 1 pick, particularly since the Steelers also kept last yearís sixth-round pick, Sunny Harris, and hold him in high regard at the position.

    15-1 Ė Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida: This is another guy about whom I raved all season, but that was when I thought he was a second-rounder. His stock has risen, and Iím not really sure why. He didnít have a first-round game against Alabama, and at 304 pounds ran a 5.27 40 at the combine. Heís quick to the second level, but rarely pulled at Florida. A very good player, Pouncey can also play guard, but I only see the Steelers considering him as a member of a pool of late first-rounders in a trade-down. I prefer they wait on Baylorís J.D. Walton in R2-3 if theyíre finally going to put a high priority on the center position.

    12-1 Ė Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama: What? You say I may as well throw long odds on Eric Berry and C.J. Spiller, too, since the Steelers wonít have a chance to draft them either? Well, I believe thereís a good chance McClain will fall to the Steelers Ė and that they will pass. Yes, itís a surprise, particularly since Iíve tooted this guyís horn all season long. But Iíve also always questioned his motor. It was something I tried to repress because I admire his leadership, intelligence and run-stuffing ability so much. I think I just wanted him to be the perfect replacement for James Farrior. But Iíve been hearing whispers about him lacking speed. At his Pro Day he ran well, and told scouts that heíd been bothered by a hamstring injury since mid-season. So I went back and watched the national title game, and his lack of speed is clear. Texas ran five outside plays that shouldíve involved McClain Ė or any inside linebacker worthy of pick 18. He got to one, only because the flow took him that way and he broke quickly to break up the screen pass. But he was hopelessly outrun on two outside running plays and two bubble screens. Itís a wonder Texas didnít run outside more often because they were hugely successful. If it was the hamstring, well, thatíll be tough to prove. Throw in his admission of having Crohnís disease and I see McClain slipping. I also watched Brandon Spikes the other night and would prefer drafting him in the second round to McClain in the first.

    8-1 Ė Joe Haden, CB, Florida: In watching Spikes, it wasnít difficult to miss Haden as he broke sharply on short passes and came up hard in run support. Heís a viciously physical cornerback, something the Steelers require. But, is he fast enough? That question arose up after the 193-pounder ran a 4.58 40 at the combine. In taking a closer look at his bowl game, Cincinnatiís receivers twice beat Haden deep. The first time he was fooled on a gadget play and recovered in the nick of time to break up the underthrown pass. On the second, he was clearly beaten but the deep ball was overthrown and incomplete. Certainly itís a small sampling, but the question remains in my mind, particularly in a draft thatís thick with upper mid-round cornerbacks. While Haden plays a position at which the Steelers have a clear need, and he plays it with Steelers-style toughness, the odds are high because someone may draft him earlier. And if heís not drafted earlier, itís possible the Steelers are worrying about his speed as well. (P.S.: The Steelers drafted my 8-1 choice last year.)

    5-1 Ė Sean Weatherspoon, ILB, Missouri: This guy dropped on the tote board when the Steelers signed Larry Foote the other day. Iíd given several reasons why Weatherspoon makes sense for the Steelers, and thereís a good chance heíll be available at pick 18. But with two solid backups now behind Farrior and Lawrence Timmons, and two just-signed special-teams stars from the CFL behind Foote and Keyaron Fox, it would make little sense to squeeze Weatherspoon onto the roster for future consideration. So, why have him rated so high at 5-1? Well, I can just hear Mike Tomlin telling reporters on draft day that Weatherspoon will start his career as an OLB Ė a position with a hole on the second-team depth chart Ė because thatís where he played in college. Yes, Weatherspoon, like Timmons before him, was a 4-3 OLB, but he prefers the middle and thatís where 4-3 OLBs play on 3-4 NFL teams. This thinking would be swallowed whole by the media, as it was when the Steelers tried to tell us that Timmons was an outside linebacker on draft day 2007.

    4-1 Ė Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho: At the combine, new OL coach Sean Kugler told Iupati he was the Steelersí No. 1 offensive lineman. And Iupati fits a position of need. Heís a 6-5+, 331-pounder who can not only run better than any other Steelers lineman, he has the frame to add 20 more pounds. Heís a monster and would help the Steelers with their short-yardage game. But Iupatiís shown to be a liability in pass protection. His supporters claim these problems can be fixed, that heís played too little football and probably hasnít received much coaching yet. Still, in my mind, a guard at pick 18 should be a sure thing, as Steve Hutchinson was at pick 17 in 2001. But the upside here is too big to ignore, and itís quite likely heíll be available when the Steelers take their turn.

    3-1 Ė Earl Thomas, FS, Texas: Hereís a guy I was willing to ignore because of A.) the depth of the position in the draft, B.) his poor showing against the Alabama run game, and, C.) the fact the Steelers signed two safeties in free agency and already have Troy Polamalu at the position. Then I learned yesterday that the Steelers had scheduled Thomas for a visit on April 8-9. When I searched his numbers for my story, I read an intelligent write-up in which the analyst compared Thomas to Polamalu. Not that I take such media remarks seriously, but when I turned the tape on to re-watch Thomas in the national championship game, the comparison rang true. Sure, Thomas was run over a couple of times by the Alabama RBs. But as I watched him closely, I saw the quick-twitch Polamalu speed as Thomas came up hard to upend Alabama backs on a handful of occasions with shoulder-first dives at their feet. I also watched Thomas stop three breakaway Alabama plays down the sideline with a burst of speed from the middle of the field. I also watched Alabama Ė seemingly on purpose Ė avoid throwing at all to anyone covered by Thomas. The three or four deep Alabama passes were all thrown with the other Texas safety over the top. Nick Saban was not about to let Thomas beat him, because, as a redshirt sophomore, Thomas had intercepted a school-record eight passes, 10 in his two-year career. In the title game, he was used as a chess piece in the Polamalu mold: He blitzed, covered slot receivers, played deep center field, played in the box, and on special teams he was used as a jammer and later came off the edge and almost blocked a punt. Heíll play this coming season as a 21-year-old and is nearly the exact size (5-10.2, 20 as Polamalu (5-10.1, 206) when Polamalu came out. Polamalu ran a 4.40 40 at his combine and dipped into the 4.3s at his Pro Day. Thomas ran a 4.48 at the combine and will likely run faster at his Pro Day (March 31). Thomas might also be able to play cornerback, and could in the least replace Deshea Townsend as the Steelersí nickel back and third safety.

    However, with Thomasís stock on the rise, and the prototype having been established by Polamalu (no safety shorter than 5-11 had been drafted in the first round for 19 years before Polamalu), itís unlikely that Thomas will be available at pick 18. The Jacksonville Jaguars, at 10, are becoming the choice landing spot on mock drafts for Thomas, after the safety-deficient Jags addressed their other main weakness by signing pass-rusher Aaron Kampman in free agency.

    But, thereís the possibility of trading up, something Kevin Colbert has done twice. The first time in team history was in 2003, when the Steelers held their breath as the San Diego Chargers, picking 15th with a hole at SS after losing Rodney Harrison, traded down 15 spots to draft a CB named Sammy Davis. The Steelers then moved up 11 spots to draft Polamalu with the 16th pick. It cost them third-round and sixth-round picks, which was less than half of the points required, according to the draft pick value board. If the Steelers can procure a similar deal this year, or even pay a smaller price if the Jaguars pass on Thomas at 10, itís the move I expect them to make.


    I'm still feeling Spoon....
    BUT...
    Thomas is on their radar in my opinion.
    I wish I could be there for the workout. I bet they work him heavily at CB and ask him how he feels about playing there. The guy is fluid...He doesn't throttle down at all when he turns his hips. I have a little concern of durabilty if he stays at S. I hope there is a write up about the workout. I'm beginning to think that Thomas is the trade up guy in the first. Possible 10 picks in this draft...Be lucky if half make it. The FA signings give them the flexibilty to make some moves in the 1st & 2nd.
    I'm still expecting the shocker. Trade up for Spiller. That will keep this board humming for months but it will get us the biggest impact player in this draft. So I'm good.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

  4. #14

    Re: Predicted odds on who the Steelers take at #18

    Quote Originally Posted by JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
    I'm still feeling Spoon....
    BUT...
    Thomas is on their radar in my opinion.
    I wish I could be there for the workout. I bet they work him heavily at CB and ask him how he feels about playing there. The guy is fluid...He doesn't throttle down at all when he turns his hips. I have a little concern of durabilty if he stays at S. I hope there is a write up about the workout. I'm beginning to think that Thomas is the trade up guy in the first. Possible 10 picks in this draft...Be lucky if half make it. The FA signings give them the flexibilty to make some moves in the 1st & 2nd.
    I heard him interviewed on the radio and he said most teams have been working him at CB. He said that seems to be where teams want him to play.

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    Re: Predicted odds on who the Steelers take at #18

    Quote Originally Posted by cruzer8
    Quote Originally Posted by JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
    I'm still feeling Spoon....
    BUT...
    Thomas is on their radar in my opinion.
    I wish I could be there for the workout. I bet they work him heavily at CB and ask him how he feels about playing there. The guy is fluid...He doesn't throttle down at all when he turns his hips. I have a little concern of durabilty if he stays at S. I hope there is a write up about the workout. I'm beginning to think that Thomas is the trade up guy in the first. Possible 10 picks in this draft...Be lucky if half make it. The FA signings give them the flexibilty to make some moves in the 1st & 2nd.
    I heard him interviewed on the radio and he said most teams have been working him at CB. He said that seems to be where teams want him to play.
    I guess I can dig Thomas, if the team really feels he can play corner.

    I was just never sold on drafting him at 18 to play FS. This is not an indication of his ability to play FS- just my thoughts on the value of FS in the 1st, when very serviceable starting FS can be found in 2-4, imo.

  6. #16
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    Re: Predicted odds on who the Steelers take at #18

    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel
    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    Wexell is absolutely the best of the Steelers' writers. No one else is close. If he says something it has a basis in fact.

    With Steelers turning to the draft, we do too



    By Jim Wexell
    Publisher SteelCityInsider.com
    Posted Mar 16, 2010



    | More

    SCI.com publisher Jim Wexell puts odds on the seven-player pool he believes the Steelers will choose from in the first round of the 2010 draft.

    The Larry Foote signing put a close to the Steelersí free agency season. Of course, Kevin Colbert said heíll keep his eyes open, but told reporters that ďthe focus is going to shift more heavily toward the draft.Ē
    We can do that. The Foote signing was a final piece of the pre-draft puzzle as we get around to posting odds on the Steelersí first-round pick.

    From the longshots to the favorite, hereís what my instincts are telling me:

    18-1 Ė Jared Odrick, DE, Penn State: I watched this guy all year and was captivated by his height, quickness and relentless motor. No, he was not a two-gapper, but I strongly doubt that Aaron Smith was a two-gapper during his days at Northern Colorado. He was taught, and so can Odrick. But the rest of the draft analysts donít seem to share my enthusiasm on Odrick anyway. And even if Mike Tomlin shows up at Penn Stateís Pro Day and shouts out encouragement as he did to Quentin Groves a few years ago, I donít see a two-man position receiving a second consecutive No. 1 pick, particularly since the Steelers also kept last yearís sixth-round pick, Sunny Harris, and hold him in high regard at the position.

    15-1 Ė Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida: This is another guy about whom I raved all season, but that was when I thought he was a second-rounder. His stock has risen, and Iím not really sure why. He didnít have a first-round game against Alabama, and at 304 pounds ran a 5.27 40 at the combine. Heís quick to the second level, but rarely pulled at Florida. A very good player, Pouncey can also play guard, but I only see the Steelers considering him as a member of a pool of late first-rounders in a trade-down. I prefer they wait on Baylorís J.D. Walton in R2-3 if theyíre finally going to put a high priority on the center position.

    12-1 Ė Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama: What? You say I may as well throw long odds on Eric Berry and C.J. Spiller, too, since the Steelers wonít have a chance to draft them either? Well, I believe thereís a good chance McClain will fall to the Steelers Ė and that they will pass. Yes, itís a surprise, particularly since Iíve tooted this guyís horn all season long. But Iíve also always questioned his motor. It was something I tried to repress because I admire his leadership, intelligence and run-stuffing ability so much. I think I just wanted him to be the perfect replacement for James Farrior. But Iíve been hearing whispers about him lacking speed. At his Pro Day he ran well, and told scouts that heíd been bothered by a hamstring injury since mid-season. So I went back and watched the national title game, and his lack of speed is clear. Texas ran five outside plays that shouldíve involved McClain Ė or any inside linebacker worthy of pick 18. He got to one, only because the flow took him that way and he broke quickly to break up the screen pass. But he was hopelessly outrun on two outside running plays and two bubble screens. Itís a wonder Texas didnít run outside more often because they were hugely successful. If it was the hamstring, well, thatíll be tough to prove. Throw in his admission of having Crohnís disease and I see McClain slipping. I also watched Brandon Spikes the other night and would prefer drafting him in the second round to McClain in the first.

    8-1 Ė Joe Haden, CB, Florida: In watching Spikes, it wasnít difficult to miss Haden as he broke sharply on short passes and came up hard in run support. Heís a viciously physical cornerback, something the Steelers require. But, is he fast enough? That question arose up after the 193-pounder ran a 4.58 40 at the combine. In taking a closer look at his bowl game, Cincinnatiís receivers twice beat Haden deep. The first time he was fooled on a gadget play and recovered in the nick of time to break up the underthrown pass. On the second, he was clearly beaten but the deep ball was overthrown and incomplete. Certainly itís a small sampling, but the question remains in my mind, particularly in a draft thatís thick with upper mid-round cornerbacks. While Haden plays a position at which the Steelers have a clear need, and he plays it with Steelers-style toughness, the odds are high because someone may draft him earlier. And if heís not drafted earlier, itís possible the Steelers are worrying about his speed as well. (P.S.: The Steelers drafted my 8-1 choice last year.)

    5-1 Ė Sean Weatherspoon, ILB, Missouri: This guy dropped on the tote board when the Steelers signed Larry Foote the other day. Iíd given several reasons why Weatherspoon makes sense for the Steelers, and thereís a good chance heíll be available at pick 18. But with two solid backups now behind Farrior and Lawrence Timmons, and two just-signed special-teams stars from the CFL behind Foote and Keyaron Fox, it would make little sense to squeeze Weatherspoon onto the roster for future consideration. So, why have him rated so high at 5-1? Well, I can just hear Mike Tomlin telling reporters on draft day that Weatherspoon will start his career as an OLB Ė a position with a hole on the second-team depth chart Ė because thatís where he played in college. Yes, Weatherspoon, like Timmons before him, was a 4-3 OLB, but he prefers the middle and thatís where 4-3 OLBs play on 3-4 NFL teams. This thinking would be swallowed whole by the media, as it was when the Steelers tried to tell us that Timmons was an outside linebacker on draft day 2007.

    4-1 Ė Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho: At the combine, new OL coach Sean Kugler told Iupati he was the Steelersí No. 1 offensive lineman. And Iupati fits a position of need. Heís a 6-5+, 331-pounder who can not only run better than any other Steelers lineman, he has the frame to add 20 more pounds. Heís a monster and would help the Steelers with their short-yardage game. But Iupatiís shown to be a liability in pass protection. His supporters claim these problems can be fixed, that heís played too little football and probably hasnít received much coaching yet. Still, in my mind, a guard at pick 18 should be a sure thing, as Steve Hutchinson was at pick 17 in 2001. But the upside here is too big to ignore, and itís quite likely heíll be available when the Steelers take their turn.

    3-1 Ė Earl Thomas, FS, Texas: Hereís a guy I was willing to ignore because of A.) the depth of the position in the draft, B.) his poor showing against the Alabama run game, and, C.) the fact the Steelers signed two safeties in free agency and already have Troy Polamalu at the position. Then I learned yesterday that the Steelers had scheduled Thomas for a visit on April 8-9. When I searched his numbers for my story, I read an intelligent write-up in which the analyst compared Thomas to Polamalu. Not that I take such media remarks seriously, but when I turned the tape on to re-watch Thomas in the national championship game, the comparison rang true. Sure, Thomas was run over a couple of times by the Alabama RBs. But as I watched him closely, I saw the quick-twitch Polamalu speed as Thomas came up hard to upend Alabama backs on a handful of occasions with shoulder-first dives at their feet. I also watched Thomas stop three breakaway Alabama plays down the sideline with a burst of speed from the middle of the field. I also watched Alabama Ė seemingly on purpose Ė avoid throwing at all to anyone covered by Thomas. The three or four deep Alabama passes were all thrown with the other Texas safety over the top. Nick Saban was not about to let Thomas beat him, because, as a redshirt sophomore, Thomas had intercepted a school-record eight passes, 10 in his two-year career. In the title game, he was used as a chess piece in the Polamalu mold: He blitzed, covered slot receivers, played deep center field, played in the box, and on special teams he was used as a jammer and later came off the edge and almost blocked a punt. Heíll play this coming season as a 21-year-old and is nearly the exact size (5-10.2, 20 as Polamalu (5-10.1, 206) when Polamalu came out. Polamalu ran a 4.40 40 at his combine and dipped into the 4.3s at his Pro Day. Thomas ran a 4.48 at the combine and will likely run faster at his Pro Day (March 31). Thomas might also be able to play cornerback, and could in the least replace Deshea Townsend as the Steelersí nickel back and third safety.

    However, with Thomasís stock on the rise, and the prototype having been established by Polamalu (no safety shorter than 5-11 had been drafted in the first round for 19 years before Polamalu), itís unlikely that Thomas will be available at pick 18. The Jacksonville Jaguars, at 10, are becoming the choice landing spot on mock drafts for Thomas, after the safety-deficient Jags addressed their other main weakness by signing pass-rusher Aaron Kampman in free agency.

    But, thereís the possibility of trading up, something Kevin Colbert has done twice. The first time in team history was in 2003, when the Steelers held their breath as the San Diego Chargers, picking 15th with a hole at SS after losing Rodney Harrison, traded down 15 spots to draft a CB named Sammy Davis. The Steelers then moved up 11 spots to draft Polamalu with the 16th pick. It cost them third-round and sixth-round picks, which was less than half of the points required, according to the draft pick value board. If the Steelers can procure a similar deal this year, or even pay a smaller price if the Jaguars pass on Thomas at 10, itís the move I expect them to make.


    Great article, thanks for posting. I also have a great respect for what Wexell writes.

    I know Geno Atkins ate Iupati up during the Senior Bowl game, but look at Iupati's 2009 season stats -

    Iupati started all 12 games at left guard, played 807 snaps and had 49 knockdowns and 21 pancake blocks. He did not allow a quarterback sack all season.

    Everyone has a bad game now and then. But if you look at Iupati's larger body of work and give him some coaching, this guy could be a fixture and Pro Bowler at LG for the next 10 years.
    If Iupati played at a school like Ohio State, Florida, Texas, etc... and gave up no sacks, then I would be impressed. Playing at Idaho, I think his real first test against top notch talent was at the Senior Bowl.

  7. #17
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    Re: Predicted odds on who the Steelers take at #18

    Quote Originally Posted by Lebsteel
    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel
    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    Wexell is absolutely the best of the Steelers' writers. No one else is close. If he says something it has a basis in fact.

    With Steelers turning to the draft, we do too



    By Jim Wexell
    Publisher SteelCityInsider.com
    Posted Mar 16, 2010



    | More

    SCI.com publisher Jim Wexell puts odds on the seven-player pool he believes the Steelers will choose from in the first round of the 2010 draft.

    The Larry Foote signing put a close to the Steelersí free agency season. Of course, Kevin Colbert said heíll keep his eyes open, but told reporters that ďthe focus is going to shift more heavily toward the draft.Ē
    We can do that. The Foote signing was a final piece of the pre-draft puzzle as we get around to posting odds on the Steelersí first-round pick.

    From the longshots to the favorite, hereís what my instincts are telling me:

    18-1 Ė Jared Odrick, DE, Penn State: I watched this guy all year and was captivated by his height, quickness and relentless motor. No, he was not a two-gapper, but I strongly doubt that Aaron Smith was a two-gapper during his days at Northern Colorado. He was taught, and so can Odrick. But the rest of the draft analysts donít seem to share my enthusiasm on Odrick anyway. And even if Mike Tomlin shows up at Penn Stateís Pro Day and shouts out encouragement as he did to Quentin Groves a few years ago, I donít see a two-man position receiving a second consecutive No. 1 pick, particularly since the Steelers also kept last yearís sixth-round pick, Sunny Harris, and hold him in high regard at the position.

    15-1 Ė Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida: This is another guy about whom I raved all season, but that was when I thought he was a second-rounder. His stock has risen, and Iím not really sure why. He didnít have a first-round game against Alabama, and at 304 pounds ran a 5.27 40 at the combine. Heís quick to the second level, but rarely pulled at Florida. A very good player, Pouncey can also play guard, but I only see the Steelers considering him as a member of a pool of late first-rounders in a trade-down. I prefer they wait on Baylorís J.D. Walton in R2-3 if theyíre finally going to put a high priority on the center position.

    12-1 Ė Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama: What? You say I may as well throw long odds on Eric Berry and C.J. Spiller, too, since the Steelers wonít have a chance to draft them either? Well, I believe thereís a good chance McClain will fall to the Steelers Ė and that they will pass. Yes, itís a surprise, particularly since Iíve tooted this guyís horn all season long. But Iíve also always questioned his motor. It was something I tried to repress because I admire his leadership, intelligence and run-stuffing ability so much. I think I just wanted him to be the perfect replacement for James Farrior. But Iíve been hearing whispers about him lacking speed. At his Pro Day he ran well, and told scouts that heíd been bothered by a hamstring injury since mid-season. So I went back and watched the national title game, and his lack of speed is clear. Texas ran five outside plays that shouldíve involved McClain Ė or any inside linebacker worthy of pick 18. He got to one, only because the flow took him that way and he broke quickly to break up the screen pass. But he was hopelessly outrun on two outside running plays and two bubble screens. Itís a wonder Texas didnít run outside more often because they were hugely successful. If it was the hamstring, well, thatíll be tough to prove. Throw in his admission of having Crohnís disease and I see McClain slipping. I also watched Brandon Spikes the other night and would prefer drafting him in the second round to McClain in the first.

    8-1 Ė Joe Haden, CB, Florida: In watching Spikes, it wasnít difficult to miss Haden as he broke sharply on short passes and came up hard in run support. Heís a viciously physical cornerback, something the Steelers require. But, is he fast enough? That question arose up after the 193-pounder ran a 4.58 40 at the combine. In taking a closer look at his bowl game, Cincinnatiís receivers twice beat Haden deep. The first time he was fooled on a gadget play and recovered in the nick of time to break up the underthrown pass. On the second, he was clearly beaten but the deep ball was overthrown and incomplete. Certainly itís a small sampling, but the question remains in my mind, particularly in a draft thatís thick with upper mid-round cornerbacks. While Haden plays a position at which the Steelers have a clear need, and he plays it with Steelers-style toughness, the odds are high because someone may draft him earlier. And if heís not drafted earlier, itís possible the Steelers are worrying about his speed as well. (P.S.: The Steelers drafted my 8-1 choice last year.)

    5-1 Ė Sean Weatherspoon, ILB, Missouri: This guy dropped on the tote board when the Steelers signed Larry Foote the other day. Iíd given several reasons why Weatherspoon makes sense for the Steelers, and thereís a good chance heíll be available at pick 18. But with two solid backups now behind Farrior and Lawrence Timmons, and two just-signed special-teams stars from the CFL behind Foote and Keyaron Fox, it would make little sense to squeeze Weatherspoon onto the roster for future consideration. So, why have him rated so high at 5-1? Well, I can just hear Mike Tomlin telling reporters on draft day that Weatherspoon will start his career as an OLB Ė a position with a hole on the second-team depth chart Ė because thatís where he played in college. Yes, Weatherspoon, like Timmons before him, was a 4-3 OLB, but he prefers the middle and thatís where 4-3 OLBs play on 3-4 NFL teams. This thinking would be swallowed whole by the media, as it was when the Steelers tried to tell us that Timmons was an outside linebacker on draft day 2007.

    4-1 Ė Mike Iupati, OG, Idaho: At the combine, new OL coach Sean Kugler told Iupati he was the Steelersí No. 1 offensive lineman. And Iupati fits a position of need. Heís a 6-5+, 331-pounder who can not only run better than any other Steelers lineman, he has the frame to add 20 more pounds. Heís a monster and would help the Steelers with their short-yardage game. But Iupatiís shown to be a liability in pass protection. His supporters claim these problems can be fixed, that heís played too little football and probably hasnít received much coaching yet. Still, in my mind, a guard at pick 18 should be a sure thing, as Steve Hutchinson was at pick 17 in 2001. But the upside here is too big to ignore, and itís quite likely heíll be available when the Steelers take their turn.

    3-1 Ė Earl Thomas, FS, Texas: Hereís a guy I was willing to ignore because of A.) the depth of the position in the draft, B.) his poor showing against the Alabama run game, and, C.) the fact the Steelers signed two safeties in free agency and already have Troy Polamalu at the position. Then I learned yesterday that the Steelers had scheduled Thomas for a visit on April 8-9. When I searched his numbers for my story, I read an intelligent write-up in which the analyst compared Thomas to Polamalu. Not that I take such media remarks seriously, but when I turned the tape on to re-watch Thomas in the national championship game, the comparison rang true. Sure, Thomas was run over a couple of times by the Alabama RBs. But as I watched him closely, I saw the quick-twitch Polamalu speed as Thomas came up hard to upend Alabama backs on a handful of occasions with shoulder-first dives at their feet. I also watched Thomas stop three breakaway Alabama plays down the sideline with a burst of speed from the middle of the field. I also watched Alabama Ė seemingly on purpose Ė avoid throwing at all to anyone covered by Thomas. The three or four deep Alabama passes were all thrown with the other Texas safety over the top. Nick Saban was not about to let Thomas beat him, because, as a redshirt sophomore, Thomas had intercepted a school-record eight passes, 10 in his two-year career. In the title game, he was used as a chess piece in the Polamalu mold: He blitzed, covered slot receivers, played deep center field, played in the box, and on special teams he was used as a jammer and later came off the edge and almost blocked a punt. Heíll play this coming season as a 21-year-old and is nearly the exact size (5-10.2, 20 as Polamalu (5-10.1, 206) when Polamalu came out. Polamalu ran a 4.40 40 at his combine and dipped into the 4.3s at his Pro Day. Thomas ran a 4.48 at the combine and will likely run faster at his Pro Day (March 31). Thomas might also be able to play cornerback, and could in the least replace Deshea Townsend as the Steelersí nickel back and third safety.

    However, with Thomasís stock on the rise, and the prototype having been established by Polamalu (no safety shorter than 5-11 had been drafted in the first round for 19 years before Polamalu), itís unlikely that Thomas will be available at pick 18. The Jacksonville Jaguars, at 10, are becoming the choice landing spot on mock drafts for Thomas, after the safety-deficient Jags addressed their other main weakness by signing pass-rusher Aaron Kampman in free agency.

    But, thereís the possibility of trading up, something Kevin Colbert has done twice. The first time in team history was in 2003, when the Steelers held their breath as the San Diego Chargers, picking 15th with a hole at SS after losing Rodney Harrison, traded down 15 spots to draft a CB named Sammy Davis. The Steelers then moved up 11 spots to draft Polamalu with the 16th pick. It cost them third-round and sixth-round picks, which was less than half of the points required, according to the draft pick value board. If the Steelers can procure a similar deal this year, or even pay a smaller price if the Jaguars pass on Thomas at 10, itís the move I expect them to make.


    Great article, thanks for posting. I also have a great respect for what Wexell writes.

    I know Geno Atkins ate Iupati up during the Senior Bowl game, but look at Iupati's 2009 season stats -

    Iupati started all 12 games at left guard, played 807 snaps and had 49 knockdowns and 21 pancake blocks. He did not allow a quarterback sack all season.

    Everyone has a bad game now and then. But if you look at Iupati's larger body of work and give him some coaching, this guy could be a fixture and Pro Bowler at LG for the next 10 years.
    If Iupati played at a school like Ohio State, Florida, Texas, etc... and gave up no sacks, then I would be impressed. Playing at Idaho, I think his real first test against top notch talent was at the Senior Bowl.


    yes, but Iupati looked terrific in the Senior Bowl practices all week long. it was only in the game when he was playing out of position at RG that he struggled.

    Iupati is way better than Essex, Foster, Legursky or Urbik...

  8. #18
    Pro Bowler pfelix73's Avatar
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    Re: Predicted odds on who the Steelers take at #18

    "Iupati is way better than Essex, Foster, Legursky or Urbik..."


    Your nuts. That's such a poor statement-- prove it.
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  9. #19
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    Re: Predicted odds on who the Steelers take at #18

    I'd be cool if we got TP II.

  10. #20
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    Re: Predicted odds on who the Steelers take at #18

    Quote Originally Posted by pfelix73
    "Iupati is way better than Essex, Foster, Legursky or Urbik..."


    Your nuts. That's such a poor statement-- prove it.
    I'd say that Iupati has more raw talent than any of those guys. But even if we drafted him, I couldn't see him starting from day one over those more experienced guys. Faneca started 12 games here as a rook, but he went to LSU, not Idaho. I think he'd have to take some time to learn the system and to adjust to the speed of the game before he would be ready to contribute.

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