Nobody ever got anywhere being cautious in their convictions. Some have tried to get me to waiver on my predicted pick, so I’m going to be bold in my stance on how the Steelers will draft this year. In my very first post (aside from my introduction) I argued Mike Pouncey would be a very sensible and solid pick for the Steelers in this years draft. There have even been a few mock drafts from some of the pundits that even have them selecting the younger Pouncey. The more I ponder over this year’s draft and look at who could be hanging around by the end of the 1st round, the more I think the stars are in alignment for a pick like this.
The trouble with corners
In a mock draft completed by SI.com yesterday, the Steelers selected Aaron Williams, a junior out to Texas. Well that should please most folks who feel the Steelers desperately need help in the secondary position. But let’s have a closer look at the rest of the draft class in this particular mock – particularly at corner. Patrick Peterson (7th overall), Prince Amukamara (9th overall), Jimmy Smith (26th overall) are corners selected prior to Williams as the 31st overall.
It’s clear from looking at Peterson, Amukamara and Smith (all of whom had 40’s under 4.4) that Williams is the slowest out of that class with an average of 4.5. Ike Taylor’s time was reported as a zooming 4.19 back in 2003 – and Taylor wasn’t even invited to the combine. His 40 time has dropped as he has aged, but it seems as if Taylor has been able to make up for that with veteran coverage. Bryant McFadden, the Steelers’ other starting corner, posted a time of 4.53 at the combine and was selected 30th in the 2nd round. William Gay, a nickel guy who didn’t quite make it as McFadden’s replacement, posted a 4.5 and was selected 170th overall. Would Williams really be an improvement to what’s already in place? I know, speed isn’t everything, but if Ike’s return is in some serious jeopardy (now that the Steelers didn’t pen him before last Friday) the Steelers are going to need some serious speed at the corner position. And, the Steelers have not really had much success when it comes to drafting corners. Aside from Taylor, the only notable corner that put up good numbers for the Steelers was Chad Scott. Yup, Rad Chad. He was a first rounder and performed better than most other corners taken in that first round, but Scott faded rather quickly in the early 2000’s. So again, I feel that Colbert and Co. will not take the chance on another bust at corner.
OG in the first round?!
Looks like defense may be out of the picture of the first round festivities for the Steelers. The offensive line seems to be the next glaring aspect that needs fixed. In the Pouncey article, one of our readers commented that you never take an offensive guard in the first round. Instead, the Steelers should go with an offensive tackle. That makes sense and seems plenty reasonable. Let’s look at our mock draft and see where we stand. Five OT’s are taken by the 29th pick. Are there six top quality tackles in the draft for the Steelers to sit on their pick and wait it out? They might as well take their chances with Aaron Williams. So perhaps the Steelers trade up a couple spots for a top 5 tackle. Very possible and I think that’s more likely than a corner taken before the 2nd or 3rd rounds. But I still don’t see that happening.
Know who you are
One thing I feel many people are overlooking about the Steelers and their success over the past decade in the draft is their ability to find the players that fit the mold of the team. A mold that has been cast since the 70’s. Look, all of these rookies in the draft are very talented young men and can and will put up some pretty impressive numbers over their careers. But, when it comes to the Steelers, only the ones that fit that championship mold become the great players of the Black and Gold. The Steelers know this and draft with that philosophy. Who is someone that fits that mold? Mike Pouncey. How do I know this? Just look at his brother, Maurkice – outstanding Pro-Bowl rookie, fast, skilled, focused, passionate and classy. Pedigree is indeed something to consider when looking at a relative of another star player entering the NFL – take Casey Matthews for instance who is constantly being compared to his brother Clay and is poised to be just as good, if not better. Will Mike be as stellar in his rookie season as his brother Maurkice? That’s tough to say right now, but I feel that because they are so much alike and that Maurkice fits this team, the Steelers would be foolish not to take a long hard look at him and consider what they need to do in order to get him – even if that means trading a few spots. According to this mock draft it looks like they might have to because New England nabs Pouncey as the 28th pick.
The corner position needs to and will be addressed, but just not through any major moves in the draft. The hiring of Lake could be the coaching spark needed to solidify some shaky corner play. Perhaps the Steelers will get Ike to sign with a bit of a discount and they can lock up another free agent CB – there’s a pretty decent selection out there. So I will continue to stand firm with what I declared before, and that’s for the Steelers to select Mike Pouncey as their first pick in the 2011 draft. And if they don’t, well I just hope that whomever they are, they fit the mold to be a great player for the Black and Gold.