Steelers 2008 NFL Draft, Rounds 1 & 2

1st Round:

Rashard Mendenhall RB Illinois
Height: 5-105/8
Weight: 225

Pros: Excellent size and strength. Big powerful back in the true Steeler tradition. Timed at 4.45 sec in the 40 which is tremendous speed for a back his size. Very natural runner with great vision who picks his hole and hits it fast. Has learned to keep those legs churning on contact to pick up extra yards. Has pretty good hands and can catch the ball out of the backfield in a pinch. More than holds his own as a blocker. Is only a Junior and played fairly sparingly his first two years in college so he doesn’t have much mileage. Reportedly a hard worker and team player with all the intangibles you look for in terms of character and attitude. Still improving and may even have a bigger upside than expected. Considered one of the top 3 backs in the draft, with many boards listing him as 2nd only to Darren McFadden.

Cons: One year wonder. Was the workhorse counted on to carry the load only this past season. Has had some issues with ball security. Is not very elusive so will take hits and will need to be durable. Doesn’t always play to his timed speed so while he can break runs, don’t expect him to do so with any regularity. A between the tackles type who will probably be unable to successfully turn the corner in the pros.

2nd Round:

Limas Sweed WR Texas
Height: 6-37/8
Weight: 215

Pros: At 6’4”, has the excellent size and a big frame with long arms the Steelers have lacked since Plaxico Burress took the money and ran. Very graceful athlete with good body control. Soft hands with above average ball skills. Awesome leaper. Tough and strong, definitely uses his size to his advantage in terms of beating the jam at the line. Only an okay blocker but so was Santonio Holmes and the Steelers coached that part of his game up and will do so with Sweed. Mostly an outside threat but not afraid to work the middle of the field, either. Timed at 4.52 sec in the 40 so has deceptively fast speed for a man his size. Again, supposedly a hard worker with all positives in terms of character issues. Very productive receiver who broke his wrist during training camp last fall so had to write-off the 2007 season which caused him to drop in the draft. If he had put up numbers similar to what he posted in 2006, would’ve been a mid to late 1st rounder.

Cons: Has good speed but not elite speed. Isn’t real quick or explosive and lacks a first step burst which may cause problems in getting separation from corners. Has been known to come down with a case of the drops now and then. Relied heavily on his natural talent in college so willingness to learn techniques and perfect route running will be key as to how effective he is as a pro. Wrist problem required surgery which could raise some questions regarding how ready he will be by next season and his long-term health and durability.

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Tags: Afc Ben Roethlisberger Berman Burress Chris Berman College Football Cowher Draft First Round Holmes Illinois Kiper Mel Kiper Mendenhall Nfc NFL Nfl Draft Pitsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh Plaxico Burress Santonio Holmes Steelers Sweed Texas Tomlin Video

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