View Full Version : Jim Wexell | Steelers' best bets for draft

04-20-2009, 11:43 PM
Jim Wexell | Steelers' best bets for draft
For The Tribune-Democrat

PITTSBURGH — As a self-described “personnel junkie,” Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin is developing his own set of draft-time catch-phrases.

One of them, made during his first year as coach, described a linebacker we in western Pennsylvania thought was a tough, consistent, Jack Ham type of player.

“That boy’s as ordinary as a bowl of grits,” Tomlin growled after he tired of hearing his name. Tomlin that year picked Lawrence Timmons, and the tone was set: The new coach goes for quick-twitch over steady and safe.

That philosophy, of course, is evolving as Tomlin works into his third season. Here’s what he told Steelers Digest after being asked what type of player he’s targeting this draft:

“I see it with increasing clarity the longer I have my job. I’m looking for guys who are talented and have humility, because the guys who are humble and even-keeled are the guys who will come into this thing and fit in, they’ll continue to grow and get better, they’ll take the criticisms of their game, they’ll be accountable.”:tt03:

So who’s being accountable?

Who’s being humble? Who’ll continue to grow? Who’ll fit into that championship locker room by keeping his mouth shut, while at the same time raising the overall talent level?

Well, these are my guesses:

Darius Butler, CB, UConn – A conversation with a scout the other day convinced me that Butler is the CB for the Steelers over Alphonso Smith (“In three years, he’s still going to be 5-8”).

I talked to Butler at the combine and quickly sensed the required humility and business-like approach. He also has the talent with his quick feet and stick-em hands, and his return skills would make him an A-plus grab for the Steelers. Problem is, he’ll probably be gone. Odds: 15-1.

Eben Britton, OT, Arizona – Another Tomlin-ism comes into play here. Last season, the coach was asked for his philosophy on drafting O-linemen, and he said “tackles, tackles, tackles,” meaning those are the better athletes and they can always be moved inside. Well, that’s the only reason Britton’s listed here because it’s unlikely the Steelers will reach for a finesse pass-blocker at the end of the first round. Such a pick would force Willie Colon inside. If this were Eugene Monroe, moving Colon would be the right move, but moving starters to make room for questionable rookies is too risky. Odds: 12-1.

Ziggy Hood, DE, Missouri – This athletic marvel was awful against the run as a gap-shooting tackle last season, and would seemingly not fit as a 3-4 end. But the Steelers love his athleticism and humility and figure he’d take well to the necessary coaching. However, a 4-3 team such as the Colts is a more likely landing spot for Hood, and if the Steelers are going to draft a player in the first round who doesn’t score touchdowns, or cover those who do, it’ll likely be an offensive lineman. Odds: 8-1.

Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State – The son of an NFL assistant coach, Robiskie is a real sleeper because of the run-first freshman QB at Ohio State last season. But Robiskie has the size and speed, and could also fit as a kickoff returner, not to mention as a big-and-nifty slot receiver. Big-and-nifty is by no means “boring grits,” as well-coached, disciplined kids like Robiskie can appear to be. Odds: 6-1.

Max Unger, C/G, Oregon – The big man appears here ahead of Alex Mack because of his versatility. Unger played LT at Oregon for two years, and that spikes the Steelers’ grades. He’s also adept at pulling after making a shotgun snap, which scouts say is rare. This player might be the best bet on this board, since the favorite is more highly regarded than originally expected. Odds: 4-1.

Eric Wood, C/G, Louisville – Not quite as tall and rangy as Unger, who could put on another 20 pounds, but Wood is more passionate about the game. In the Senior Bowl, he not only handled B.J. Raji, but showed surprising move skills as a guard, which were reaffirmed at the combine. While those move skills will never resemble Dermontti Dawson’s, Wood’s work ethic and attitude should spark flashbacks of Mike Webster, which fits Tomlin’s overriding draft theme. Odds: 5-2.

Jim Wexell is a free-lance writer who covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for The Tribune-Democrat.

tony hipchest
04-21-2009, 12:14 AM
wow. 3 centers being so heavilly debated as the #32 pick in the draft leads me to belive that a center isnt worth the #32 pick in the draft.


El-Gonzo Jackson
04-21-2009, 12:47 AM
wow. 3 centers being so heavilly debated as the #32 pick in the draft leads me to belive that a center isnt worth the #32 pick in the draft.


Not unless you need one and the Steelers do with Hartwig in the final year of his contract. Mack or Wood at #32 would anchor the middle for 10 years and I have no problem if they are drafted.

Both are powerful maulers that can handle the big NT's in our division, yet athletic enough to play guard. Both are intelligent as Mack has won the equal of the academic Heismann and Wood is all academic Big East and a big film study guy. I think both are better than Nick Mangold.

04-21-2009, 01:27 AM
So out of Mack and Wood who would would have the better chance of starting at guard in their first season? (it only takes Kemo or Stapleton to get hurt and there is no depth behind them)

That could be one major factor that goes towards splitting the two.

04-21-2009, 01:12 PM
Pending a Center frenzy in the later ends of the first round, i could see us possibly getting Wood in the 2nd

04-21-2009, 01:56 PM
shit.. if we could get wood in the 2nd.. and another need pos in the 1st... i would be a very very happy camper

04-21-2009, 02:15 PM
i agree with u lilyoder6...hopefully ist could happen

04-21-2009, 09:01 PM
I liked a lot of this column--it was especially interesting to hear Tomlin's draft philosophy on O-linemen, as that leads one to believe that someone like Beatty or Britton may be the pick over Mack/Wood.

That said, his picks are way off . . . 4:1 for Unger and 8:1 for Ziggy Hood? No way we go for either of those guys . . .

Steely McSmash
04-21-2009, 10:04 PM
That said, his picks are way off . . . 4:1 for Unger and 8:1 for Ziggy Hood? No way we go for either of those guys . . .

Why is that?:noidea:

04-21-2009, 10:18 PM
i think unger would excite some coaches just b/c he did play lt his 1st 2 yrs.. then moved to center.. and i'm guessing he can play guard

04-22-2009, 07:20 PM
Why is that?:noidea:

Because Mack>Wood>Unger.

And Ziggy Hood is unlikely to be drafted before the middle of the second.

It isn't impossible we draft either at 32, but Unger at 4:1 odds with no mention of guys like Mack, Beatty etc . . . is (IMO) questionable.