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Thread: Steelers hope for fast learners from draft class

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    Steelers hope for fast learners from draft class

    Steelers hope for fast learners from draft class

    By Alan Robinson
    Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013



    Former Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell figures to get plenty of carries during his rookie season with the Steelers.

    The Steelers will bring in their newly assembled rookie class for an orientation session this weekend, and it might be the only time some of them feel like brand-new NFL players.

    The Class of '13 likely will be asked to do more, and do it earlier, than any other class in Mike Tomlin's reign as coach. And maybe back into Bill Cowher's tenure, too.

    The Steelers are a team in need, and it is already being reflected in their depth chart.

    Though he won't be listed as such on the official team-issued depth chart, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, the first-round pick, likely will go into training camp in late July as a starter in waiting. His camp will determine how long that wait is. The same goes for running back Le'Veon Bell, the second-rounder, who will go up against a lot of bodies in camp but is already a strong candidate to start.

    Shamarko Thomas, the Syracuse safety the Steelers traded up to get in the fourth round? He'll go into camp No. 2 behind Troy Polamalu. Markus Wheaton, the burst-of-speed wide receiver taken on the third round? He's probably a solid No. 2 on the depth chart, too, without yet stepping foot in Pittsburgh.

    “We like these picks,” general manager Kevin Colbert said. “We just hope they're the right ones that help us win games.”

    This draft was an important one for Colbert, whose picks since 2000 have helped the Steelers rank No. 2 in draft class production, trailing only the Packers. But the Class of 2008 five years ago was an effective washout, with no players remaining, and it is that failed class that, in part, created the urgency for this class to produce right away. With so many needs, the Steelers drafted experienced, proven players from big schools — Michigan State, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida State, Oregon State — before making their one reach pick in seventh-rounder Nick Williams, a 320-pound defensive end from Samford. Only Williams and quarterback Landry Jones won't be expected to contribute this year.



    Almost as soon as the Steelers made Jones the No. 17 pick — at one point during the offseason the former Georgia star was No. 1 overall on ESPN analyst Mel Kiper's board — linebackers coach Keith Butler issued the prerequisite caution that it's very difficult for a rookie linebacker to start in the Steelers' defense.

    “Jarvis Jones has a wealth of talent, and I'm very fortunate to have him,” Butler said. “But he's not going to be given the position.”

    But with James Harrison in Cincinnati, and Jason Worilds precariously penciled in as the starter after being a career backup, the Steelers almost certainly aren't bringing in Jones to sit. And they almost certainly aren't bringing in the most heavily used running back in major college football last season to stand idly one year after the Steelers ran for fewer yards than in all but one season since the NFL adopted a 16-game schedule.

    Tomlin emphasized Jones and Bell must win their jobs, even on a team that could go into the season considered only the third best of the AFC North's four teams.

    “I think it's a daunting task for rookies to start in any system and play and perform well,” Tomlin said. “(But) we're not going to close the door on anyone on earning an opportunity.”

    http://triblive.com/sports/steelers/...#ixzz2Rs7CFVHH

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    Backup SteelSpain's Avatar
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    BJBiKZWCYAA_NGY.jpg



    Great draft class.

    You know what's even sadder?

    I am a poet and for me spring does not exist

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel View Post
    This draft was an important one for Colbert, whose picks since 2000 have helped the Steelers rank No. 2 in draft class production, trailing only the Packers. But the Class of 2008 five years ago was an effective washout, with no players remaining, and it is that failed class that, in part, created the urgency for this class to produce right away. With so many needs, the Steelers drafted experienced, proven players from big schools — Michigan State, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida State, Oregon State — before making their one reach pick in seventh-rounder Nick Williams, a 320-pound defensive end from Samford. Only Williams and quarterback Landry Jones won't be expected to contribute this year.
    Before we get too excited about this draft class, lets remember how absolutely everyone thought both Mendenhall and Sweed were the steals of the draft and Dennis Dixon was a potential first rounder / QB of the future for someone that slipped only because of injury.

    I think we did well over the weekend, but you never know until they suit up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelSpain View Post
    BJBiKZWCYAA_NGY.jpg


    Great draft class.
    Gracias, I love this pic and i hope you don't mind that I'm going to use it as my sig for awhile...

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    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel View Post
    Gracias, I love this pic and i hope you don't mind that I'm going to use it as my sig for awhile...
    It´s a huge honor for me. Make me very happy but the pic isn´t mine

    I take it from Steelers twiter.

    You know what's even sadder?

    I am a poet and for me spring does not exist

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    Shamarko Hit of Steelers' Third Day



    Robert Woods, Shamarko Thomas (Schultz/Getty)

    By Jim Wexell
    SteelCityInsider.net
    Posted Apr 27, 2013

    And on the third day, the Steelers drafted backups for their two best players: Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger.

    Carnell Lake wasn’t afraid to raise the bar of expectation on the most exciting Steelers pick of the second day of the NFL draft.

    Lake, the Steelers’ secondary coach, was asked if Shamarko Thomas – his new safety – is Bob Sanders Lite.

    “He is,” Lake said of the Steelers’ fourth-round draft pick. “Shamarko’s an outstanding football player. I think if he had two more inches he’d have been in the first round, in my opinion. That’s how highly I think of this young man.”

    Thomas stands only an eighth of an inch below 5 feet 9 inches. And at 5-8.7, 213 pounds, Thomas had a vertical jump of 40½ inches and ran a 4.42 40 at the combine, in spite of tripping and falling face first across the finish line.

    That scene typified the strong safety’s playing style at Syracuse, where his size, speed and kamikaze approach naturally brought about the comparison to Sanders (5-8.3, 204), the former two-time All-Pro who was the 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the Indianapolis Colts.

    The Steelers considered drafting Thomas in the third round Friday, but opted instead to trade next year’s third-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for the right to draft Thomas in the fourth round this year. The Steelers cited an expected third-round compensatory pick next year as the basis for the deal.

    “He has the size, he has speed, and he has strength,” gushed an enthusiastic Lake. “He is very aware on the field. Not only can he play safety, but he can also get up there and play man-to-man on the slot receiver. He has played nickel and he has played corner at times. He is a very versatile defensive back. I think he is not only going to do well for our secondary, but I think he is going to do well for the special teams.”

    Thomas was the proverbial heat-seeking missile as a four-year starting strong safety at Syracuse. He led his team last season with 88 tackles and 3 forced fumbles, and also had 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery.

    Lake was particularly impressed by Thomas’s performance last season in an upset win over USC.

    “When I was watching film on Shamarko, he was in the nickel position covering Robert Woods, who was drafted in the second round,”

    Lake said as he relayed his conversation with Thomas.

    “I said, ‘Well how come you were out wide playing Woods at the corner position? Did you play corner?’ He said, ‘No, it was still the nickel but our coaching staff wanted me to match up wherever he went.’ And I thought that was really impressive. Why would you have your strong safety covering one of the better receivers in the draft man-to-man throughout the whole game? Woods had a very hard time getting off the jam with this kid. Not only that, but Shamarko went on and picked it one time when Woods ran down the seam. For me, that was almost a game-changer. Sealed the deal, in my opinion.”

    Lake said Thomas’s vertical jump (which tied for the DB high at the combine) negates any potential size disadvantage. Lake also is unconcerned about Thomas’s concussion history, a residue of the player’s hard-hitting style.

    “They haven’t been an issue with the medical staff,” Lake said. “As you know, our safeties that are currently playing on our team have had issues. It comes with the territory back there because of the distances and the speed at which these guys play. I don’t see it as an issue. He’s not a head-hunter, per se. He just makes good, strong tackles. When you watch him, he’s wrapping up with his arms and his shoulders so I do like that part about it.”

    With their original fourth-round pick, the Steelers chose Landry Jones, the Oklahoma quarterback who threw for 16,646 yards and 123 touchdowns, both Big 12 Conference career records. Jones’ yardage total ranks third all-time in NCAA history behind Case Keenum and Timmy Chang.

    Landry is 6-4¼, 225 pounds with decent mobility (5.11 40) and a 39-11 record in 50 career starts. He’s been criticized for poor performances in big games, but his .780 win percentage at Oklahoma is close to coach Bob Stoops’ .809 win percentage with all other Oklahoma quarterbacks.

    “He’s a guy that still has a lot of upside,” said Steelers QB coach Randy Fichtner. “He played in the system that is basically one-back. He knows the system very well. He’s been easily adaptable in meetings that I’ve spent with him, so he can understand the pro game. That’s going to be exciting.”

    Lake was handed another upside-oriented defensive back in the fifth round when the Steelers drafted Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne (5-11¾, 195).

    The Defensive MVP of his team’s 2011 Kraft Hunger Bowl, Hawthorne entered the 2012 season as a highly regarded prospect before tailing off his senior year. He has 6 career interceptions, supports the run aggressively, returns punts (21.2 ypr. last season), some kickoffs, and ran his 40 in the low 4.4s.

    “I guess my stock just dropped,” said Hawthorne, who was asked if that gave him a chip on his shoulder.

    “Of course I have a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I thought I was better than the fifth round.”

    “If there’s anything I can help him with it will probably be his technique,” said Lake, who compared Hawthorne’s press-coverage skills to those of Ike Taylor.

    “I think he has maybe got himself a little bit out of position and it’s partly due to some of the things that I saw with him that I can help clean up,” Lake said. “Right now, he is just raw.”

    With two picks in the sixth round, the Steelers chose Oklahoma WR Justin Brown and Florida State ILB Vince Williams.

    Brown is listed by the Steelers at 6-3, 209 and runs the 40 in the high 4.5s. A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Brown caught 73 passes at Penn State and another 73 after transferring last year to Oklahoma. He’s projected to “the strong side” by new Steelers WRs coach Richard Mann.

    “He’s a big guy,” Mann said. “One year (at Oklahoma), very productive; that tells you something about the guy. I think he’s got good toughness and that’s part of being a good receiver. He’ll lock up downfield and I think that’s part of it also. He’s a good receiver. Can catch the football. Big target.”

    Williams was the signal-caller as the middle linebacker for the Florida State defense. At 6-1, 250 he’s a run-game thumper who started the last two seasons at FSU. Last year Williams finished fourth on his team with 59 tackles and had 6½ tackles for loss. He was one of the team captains and was given the Leadership Award for defense.

    The drafting of Williams indicates the Steelers are moving on without Sean Spence, last year’s third-round pick who suffered a gruesome knee injury last preseason.

    “It would be miraculous if he recovers,” said Steelers LBs coach Kevin Butler, who added that “we’re going to ride with him another year I think. Hopefully his knee will respond and he can play again.”

    The Steelers drafted another Williams in the seventh round, Nick Williams (6-4, 317), a defensive end out of Samford. Steelers DL coach John Mitchell compared Williams to Steve McLendon when McLendon was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Troy.

    “Pat Sullivan, the ex-Heisman Trophy winner, is the head coach (at Samford),” said Mitchell. “Pat Sullivan had talked to me about this kid for about the last year. He is a guy that we have had our eye on for a good while.”

    Williams was a basketball star in high school and began playing football as a senior. He added 75 pounds since he arrived at Samford and said “I can put on as much weight as I have to.”

    “He’s not going to come in here and replace anybody,” Mitchell said. “He is probably not going to play. He is a project, but you can’t get guys that are 6-4, 320 pounds that can run.”

    http://pit.scout.com/2/1287529.html

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    Hall of Famer ikestops85's Avatar
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    Does anybody think Nick Williams can play tight end? Could you imagine what a DB would be thinking as a 320 pound TE comes rumbling toward him?
    <a href=http://seahawknationblog.com/files/2011/02/roger-goodell.jpg target=_blank>http://seahawknationblog.com/files/2...er-goodell.jpg</a>

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    Quote Originally Posted by ikestops85 View Post
    Does anybody think Nick Williams can play tight end? Could you imagine what a DB would be thinking as a 320 pound TE comes rumbling toward him?
    Why not. A couple of years ago they did it with Miguel Chavis and if IIRC another DT was switched to FB too.

    You know what's even sadder?

    I am a poet and for me spring does not exist

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    Quote Originally Posted by ikestops85 View Post
    Does anybody think Nick Williams can play tight end? Could you imagine what a DB would be thinking as a 320 pound TE comes rumbling toward him?
    He's got about the same amount of experience there as DE and I'd try it cause he's a great athlete and basketball player. Could be ginormous Antonio Gates or something.

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    A Return to the “Steelers Way”? Steelers Draft for Class in 2013

    by Steelblitz

    Jarvis Jones - Jones had to deal with a lot of issues in college and has continue to overcome. He started his football career at USC, but after a spinal injury he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and the doctors at USC told him to leave football. Jones instead transferred to Georgia and became one of the most dominant players in the SEC, arguably the most difficult college football conference to play in. Even so, Jones has overcome much worse than that in his life.

    ESPN: The morning of Jan. 9, 2005, Jones and his older brother, Darcell Kitchens, were standing down the street from their mother’s home in tiny Richland, Ga. It was Kitchens’ 19th birthday. A car stopped in the road, and a friend asked Kitchens if he wanted to go celebrate at a bar.

    “Do you want me to stay with you or go?” Kitchens asked his younger brother.

    “I told him it was his birthday and that he needed to go have fun,” Jones said. “I told him I’d see him in the morning.”

    That was the last time Jones ever saw his older brother. An hour later Darcell was shot twice outside of a bar after getting in an argument with another group. He was able to stumble inside the bar where he collapsed and died. His shooter is now serving a life sentence in a Georgia prison.

    “It was devastating because me and my brother were very close,” Jones said. “He was my best friend. We’d been together that whole day. He’d only left me an hour earlier. He’s who motivates me now,” Jones said. “I feel like he gives me all my strength. He walks with me everyday. It killed me for a long time. If I’d just said, ‘Stay.’”

    Jones has now fulfilled his NFL dreams by being drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. After his brothers death Jones was making bad decisions and said he couldn’t control his anger. When he wanted to start playing basketball his coaches told him he could only play basketball if he also played football, but he didn’t want to play football. He had played basketball with his brother and that was where his heart was, but after a while he realized he could take his anger out by hitting people in football and became a linebacker his junior season of high school.

    “As I got older, everything that happened, I just turned into motivation. I know if my brother was here, he wouldn’t have agreed with the decisions I was making. I decided I was going to make him proud in heaven.”

    Le’Veon Bell - Bell may not have tragedy in his background like Jones, but he has still had to overcome doubters throughout his football career. He was not highly recruited out of high school, but Michigan State saw some potential in him and made him an offer. That offer paid off very well for both sides and now Bell is fulfilling his NFL dreams with the Steelers.

    Bell is already embracing Steeler Nation and if you listen or watch any of his post-draft interviews you can see just how excited he is to be a Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Markus Wheaton - Wheaton has a family pedigree of good football players including Oregon star Kenny Wheaton. Kenny’s brother Derrek, Markus’s cousin, was killed in 1997 so Markus also understands family grief like Jones. In 2011 Wheaton went to Guatemala to help build a house for a family in need as a part of “Beavers without Boarders.” His coaches can’t say enough good things about him and he is considered a special person on and off the field.

    Shamarko Thomas - After starting seven games as a true freshman there were some lofty expectations for Thomas entering his sophomore season. However, two months before the season was set to start tragedy struck. The man who pushed him to gridiron greatness was gone. Thomas’ father, Abdul Shabazz, died in a motorcycle accident in North Carolina. Shabazz had just picked up a new part for his motorcycle and was returning home when a 20-year-old driver lost control of the wheel, swerved out of his lane and crashed into him.

    Nine months late things got even worse for Thomas. Thomas’ mother Ebeth Shabazz passed away of a heart condition. Thomas called her his best friend and after his father walked out in high school he watched his mother attend dental school and work at McDonalds to support six kids.

    “One day, she just told me, ‘Shamarko, you wanna be great, you gotta work harder than everybody. You gotta be better than all the competition,’” Thomas said. “Her favorite quote was ‘work hard until your hands and your feet fall off.’”

    Thomas and his mother spoke frequently, but one phone conversation in April 2011 sticks out. At the time, Thomas thought it was just another talk. But what his mother said ultimately changed his life forever.

    “She was like, ‘If anything ever happens to me, I just want you to know you’re my chosen one. I want you to promise me that you are going to try your hardest and your best to make it,’” Thomas said. “I told my mom I’m going to make it and take care of my whole family.”

    “When my momma passed, I’m like, ‘God is punishing me again,’ but I remember my grandma always said, ‘Don’t ever say God is punishing you. He’s rewarding you,’” Thomas said. “He’s making you sacrifice. God don’t put you through what you can’t handle.’”

    Thomas has made it and was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL draft by the Steelers. He will have a chance to become a starting safety for the Steelers in the futre and will be able to support his family. His parents and siblings will continue to motivate him.

    “I do this for my family,” he said. “I don’t only want to be in the NFL because of all the money. I want to be in the NFL because it’s my goal to make my parents smile down on me. I really take that to heart.”

    Landry Jones - Jones had some issues after his freshman year. He was forced into the fire as Sam Bradford’s replacement and Oklahoma, who was considered a national championship contender at the beginning of the season, struggled with Jones at the helm. Jones admitted to turning to alcohol and girls to restore his confidence. Jones turned to religion to help get his life back on track and had three successful seasons with the Sooners. He was expected to leave school last year as a junior, but he chose to stay for his senior year.

    Jones also married his college girlfriend Whitney Hand who played basketball at Oklahoma with Ben Roethlisberger’s sister Carlee. Hand was in a similar situation as she was recovering from an ACL injury and looked to religion for help. Jones and Hand leaned on each other and both were drafted into professional leagues in the past few months.

    Terry Hawthorne - Terry Hawthorne grew up in a tough neighborhood and is trying to be inspiration to other kids growing up in that area. Many though Hawthorne was going to come out as a junior and enter his name in the NFL draft. Had he done so he would have gone higher than the fifth round, but he had other ideas in mind.

    “It’s tremendous,’’ said Hawthorne. “It’s really important to me — to be from East St. Louis, to come to college and finish school. That was a big thing back home. Everybody always says we have great athletes, but we don’t have great enough athletes to go to college and finish college and move on to the next *level. I want to be one of the first ones to do to that and prove everybody wrong.’’

    Justin Brown - Justin Brown played at Penn State, but he chose to leave the school afte they were hit with sanctions last year. He chose to transfer to Oklahoma even though it was a very tough choice for him to leave Penn State in the first place. Brown has been talked of very highly after his one season at Oklahoma one source said ”he earned the respect of coaches and players in a way many four- and five-year players haven’t.” That speaks highly of the type of person Brown is off-the-field and his work ethic and determination on the field.

    Vince Willaims - Vince Williams is a lot like Larry Foote. He isn’t going to blow the roof off of the gym in workouts, but when it comes to the football field he is a play-maker. If he had played all three downs in college he would have gone much higher than the sixth round and the Steelers hope he can play all three downs moving forward.

    “I’m a football player,” Williams said. “I may not test out of the gym. I’m not going to be the most ridiculous athlete, but I’m going to get the job done. I’m going to make plays and I’m going to work as hard as possible.”

    Nick Williams - Nick Williams didn’t play high school football until his senior year and he was not recruited by any colleges. The only reason he ended up at Samford was because his father knew their head coach. He had a lot still to learn when he got to Samford and he didn’t start until his junior year, but as a senior he was a top player in Division I-AA football and earned all conference honors. Williams still has a lot to learn and needs to grow as a player, but after playing only one year of high school football he got on a college team and after being only a two year starter (three years in his career) in college he was drafted. Williams has a lot of upside and the Steelers will try to groom him into a star.

    http://network.yardbarker.com/nfl/ar..._2013/13560962

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