View Full Version : Why the Steelers "MAY" take an Offensive Lineman

04-26-2008, 02:24 PM
Here it is, nearly two hours before the draft. I live in the great Northwest and this is maybe the second nice day we have had this year, and I don't care to go outside--could be kayaking, backpacking, hotspringing--but I am sitting on my bed listening to the radio and a couple of radio broadcasts online while looking over everyone's mock drafts at walterfootball draft database. I feel like a kid who can't go look under the Christmas tree because his parents will not let him until they wake up.....and he can't sneak downstairs b/c he is locked in his room. By the way, check out the Emmitt Smith Mock Draft at Walter Football as well, it is hilarious.

I find myself asking myself if I am crazy and the answer is "Yes, I am a Steelers Fan". A couple of things that I have read have sorta rubbed me the wrong way. One of the things is the absolute certainty that many draft gurus/writers/threads/etc talk with. Mel Kiper is one of the worst violators of that. I have also read many articles about why the Steelers WILL NOT take an offensive lineman as if they have attended Steelers Draft Meetings. One was 5 reason why, another was 8 reasons why, another was an online podcast by Lance Williams.

Personally, I would love to see Stewart drop to them, but that is a sexy pick. I wouldn't be opposed to Balmer, Mayo, Hardy, or Groves either. As long as it isn't a QB, TE, Punter, Kicker. But I would like to offer many more reasons why I think the Steelers MAY take an Offensive Lineman with the First Pick.

But before I go on, let me get off my chest my pet peeve about the simplification that goes on in life. It goes on with hot-button issues in politics and pretty much everywhere else in our short attention span American culture. Things have to be one way, black or white!!! The Steelers are not going to pick based on Best Player Available. No team does that (if they did you might have a draft where QB's are the highest rated in each round and end up with 7 QB's in a draft). BPA is ridiculous. So is picking for need. Sure arguments can be made that if a player is picked and fits a need, that they picked for need. Needs are obviously addressed during the draft, but a reach for a player isn't always a reach for need and likewise, a player that is picked that doesn't fit a need outright isn't always the BPA. That is a oversimplification that almost all the sportswriters are guilty of. One thing that isn't usually discussed outright is picking for scheme. Sure they, sometimes address that in their needs arguments, but picking for Scheme is a major factor and works against the BPA simplified argument.

I think the Steelers and most clubs use all of the above. Sure they pick for depth as well. I also think the Steelers really have an eye on long-term viability rather than this year. There draft guru's are really near sighted. I would like to propose an new theory on how NFL teams pick players. It is a novel idea. I believe they pick who they LIKE! Wow, pretty simple. It incorporates all of the above over simplifications and includes character, work ethic, potential, former coaching history, performance, etc.

Having said all that, I am going to make an argument as to why the Steelers "May" choose a Offensive Lineman in the first round. I will not be pretentious enough to say "Will Choose". I haven't really heard all of the reasons spelled out and there are more of them than all of the reasons why they will not.

First, this is a great Offensive Tackle Draft. Kevin Colbert said as much. Sure this could be turned around and used against the Steelers taking a OT in the first, since good prospects will be available in the 2nd or possibly 3rd, but there is a good chance one of the top 5/6 tackles drops to the Steelers. I think that would be hard for them to pass up. A great future LT prospect in the late 1st round! The Steelers don't draft for the next year. How many players in recent drafts have the Steelers drafted with the intention of starting as rookies. Other than Sepulveda, I can't think of any others. Roethlisberger was supposed to sit behind Maddox.

Second, there is 102 million reasons plus 50 per year. The latter being approximate number of sacks the Steelers have given up to their 102 million dollar quarterback per year. That is huge investment I am sure they want to protect. Sooner or later if that keeps up, Big Ben is going to incur a Bradshaw like injury. Notwithstanding, self-induced with helmateless donorcycle riding or bungeeless bungee jumping!

Third, it is a simple numbers game. Defensive Line vs Offensive line. We know the Defensive Line needs depth as it is aging, but there is three of them verses five Offensive Lineman. It is harder to replenish a line of 5 over a line of 3.

Fourth, Free Agents, Max Starks, Willie Colon, Marvel Smith, Jason Capizzi, Jerremy Parquet, Trai Essex, Chris Komoeatu are Free Agents next year. Sure Capizzi and Parquet might not matter much other than the fact that they either need to prove themselves or get replaced. The last part is the part that matters, replaced. I am not sure about Stapleton's contract either. Point is that the line wasn't good last year, after this year. Sure the backup's could come cheap, but the Steelers will need to #%#% or get off the pot with them. The others need to improve. Maybe Hartwig will make the rest of the line look better maybe not.

Fifth: Marvel Smith isn't a spring chicken. Nor is he that old, but he is passing his prime and a position change might extend his career. Is he worth big money in the future?

Sixth: Is Marvel Smith's back healthy? That is a valid question.

Seventh: Max Starks was benched last year. For Willie Colon and his short arms which aren't talked about as being ideal for a tackle. Perhaps a move inside to guard. What a crazy situation to be in with Max Starks....7 million for one year. What about next year. Is he worth it? Can anyone honestly answer that. What about his next contract either a renegotiated one this year or a new one next year. That is a lot of money for a decent lineman, not exceptional. If you think he is exceptional, how many teams contacted him when he tendered the Transition Tag?

(As I type this, ESPN is talking about the TWO DRAFT Strategies (Need Versus BPA)!!!! Maybe it is just fun for people to simplify things and brand a move as either just one or another and forget that teams have a draft strategy for the entire draft.

Eighth: Can Hartwig be any good? Can he help out that line. Can he stay healthy? An important question.

Ninth: Mahan, is he worth keeping around. We know that is not a Center but can he make the transition to guard? Is he a good enough guard/backup guard/ backup center to justify that kinda dough he is getting. Backup center is probably cheaper and just as good with Stapleton. It probably couldn't be worse.

Tenth: Komoeatu. We know he is big and mean, but can he play. That is just a question mark. No one knows yet.

Eleventh: Simmons, was Simmons part of the problem with the line last year or was he part of the solution keeping the line from being even worse? He is also in his Seventh year, not a big concern yet.

This post is too long, I will have to post twice in a row. I am rather wordy.

04-26-2008, 02:25 PM

So here I have been all this time building a case for drafting for need. Or have I been making a case for drafting for logic. Sure there are needs, but there are also a ton of question marks and the always fun salary cap. There will likely be one Offensive Lineman that makes it to #23 that the Steelers like. The Steelers like to draft players and make sure they understand the system before plugging them in. That usually takes a year for rirst round rookies. The Steelers FO is not short sighted and look to be competitive every year and that is why I think the best case can be made that an OL will be drafted due to logic.

Having written all of that and given that this draft is deep in RB's, WR, OT, CB; do the Steelers go for one of the positions that isn't deep (DE) in the first and then take advantage of the depth in later rounds (ie DE 1st, OT 2d, Corner 3rd, WR/RB 4/5th)....or do they just go after the depth first in this years draft and then go after next years deeper spots.

Also there is a risk/reward bust factor. Several positions are riskier in the first round (QB's, WR's). This has to be taken into account by the FO.

Remember that the Steelers have contingency plans for whatever happens before their pick in case the players they like aren't there. I made a spreadsheet of all of the prospects the Steelers have brought in or shown interest in. You can clearly see (unless it is a smokescreen) that whatever pick they make in the first, there are several paths that they can follow in later rounds to address some of their needs. One thing that appears on the surface to be obvious is that they will go after a RB in the mid rounds (unless of course Steward drops to them).

Also remember that the Steelers have a draft next year too and they will have at least 8 picks next year including a likely compensatory pick in the 3rd round for the loss of Alan Faneca. Not sure if they will get any more, and if they let a lot of those UFA's walk next year, and there might be a lot of them, two years from now they will get a ton of compensatory picks This is a capital that no one seems to take into account. Plus future picks can also be used for trades up into the first round. Don't discount that the Steelers will not move up to get someone that they want. Everyone dismisses that this scenario will not happen. They did it the year Polamalu was picked.

So what do I hope happens? One of two things. A great trade down so that the Steelers can take advantage of the depth in this draft in key positions, and pick players that had first round grades a month or two ago. The other; well I would like to see a good OT or Albert available to them when they pick as well as Stewart, a top corner, Balmer, and Hardy. I want to the see a difficult decision, but one with many options!!!
I don't care if they draft an OT in the first but I just wanted to make good case for it. I just hope that they have a great draft and pick lots of players that are around this time next year.

04-27-2008, 07:45 AM
:noidea: All that talk about an Olineman and still dont know who you wanted us to draft.

04-27-2008, 08:47 AM
:noidea: All that talk about an Olineman and still dont know who you wanted us to draft.

I just wanted us to get value! I was hoping that there would be several picks available to choose from. I obviously was leaning toward OT with the first pick but I think we got better value with Mendenhall than what we would have possibly had with the what OT's I thought would be there to choose from.