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mesaSteeler
07-04-2009, 10:33 AM
Steelers' rookie class in position to contribute
http://profootballweekly.com/2009/07/04/steelers-rookie-class-in-position-to-contribute
Posted July 04, 2009 @ 11:03 a.m.
By Mike Wilkening

The 2008 Steelers marched to a Super Bowl title despite getting little from their rookies. Bad luck played a major role in the lack of production of the rookie class; first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall likely would have been a contributor if he hadn’t suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in September. Also, the Steelers did not need major contributions from WR Limas Sweed (who struggled with his consistency and will be in a fight for the No. 3 WR job this season) and OLB Bruce Davis and OT Tony Hills (neither of whom made an impact) considering the veteran depth at those positions.

With the vast majority of last season’s club returning, the Steelers don’t necessarily need a major lift from the 2009 rookie class, either. Nonetheless, the newest group of first-year players looks capable of helping in Year One based on the roles available for the taking on the Steelers.

First-round pick Evander “Ziggy” Hood was drafted to eventually become a starting defensive end, but the interior pass-rush pressure he created as a defensive tackle at Missouri is not lost on the Steelers, who plan to use him when they go to a four-man D-line in passing downs this season — but not at nose tackle in the base 3-4, we're told.

Rookie ORG Kraig Urbik, who could push starter Darnell Stapleton with a strong training-camp performance, is one of three Pittsburgh third-round picks with a shot at contributing this season.

WR Mike Wallace, selected five spots after Urbik in Round Three, may compete for playing time in three- and four-WR sets, but his kickoff-return ability makes him a rookie to watch in the preseason. Wallace, who has been clocked at 4.31 seconds in the 40-yard dash, returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns at Ole Miss.

CB Keenan Lewis, the last of the team's third-round picks, has drawn comparisons to current Steelers starting corner Ike Taylor. Lewis, who was Wallace’s high school teammate in New Orleans, figures to be a No. 4 or No. 5 cornerback and could be the long-range replacement for Taylor. A source close to the Steelers says Lewis, who starred at Oregon State, was the most impressive of the club’s rookies this summer.

Another notable rookie is fifth-round CB Joe Burnett, who will contend to be the punt returner.

Men of Steel
07-04-2009, 11:52 AM
well the talent is definitely there... i just hope they all contribute somehow and help the team get to 7!!!

thanks mesa

mesaSteeler
07-04-2009, 12:41 PM
well the talent is definitely there... i just hope they all contribute somehow and help the team get to 7!!!

thanks mesa

You are most welcome. Have a happy 4th of July.

El-Gonzo Jackson
07-04-2009, 01:16 PM
. A source close to the Steelers says Lewis, who starred at Oregon State, was the most impressive of the club’s rookies this summer.
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I've been the most excited to see Keenan Lewis in B&G. The kid just looks like the closest thing we have had in a "shut down corner" here since Rod Woodson. He's got tons of UPSIDE. :thumbsup:

mulldog24
07-04-2009, 01:22 PM
Can't wait till training camp to see the battle for RG and WR3 unfold as it will be intriguing to watch!

tony hipchest
07-04-2009, 01:27 PM
I've been the most excited to see Keenan Lewis in B&G. The kid just looks like the closest thing we have had in a "shut down corner" here since Rod Woodson. He's got tons of UPSIDE. :thumbsup:i havent seen much of him but i did watch him live in his last game played.

sun bowl vs. pitt. while the entire game was a defensive stalemate the whole way, pitts passing attack looked like high schoolers playing agains professionals. i dont think lewis gave up a reception all day (which aint saying much being that they had about 5 completions).

J Dogg
07-04-2009, 01:28 PM
Urbik is road grader who comes from a run first attack at Wisconsin.

I'd lay even money that he's starting by mid season at the latest.

thumper
07-04-2009, 02:24 PM
Urbik should be playing. OG can play as rookies and even do in Pgh, a team known for virtually ignoring rookies year 1. (I don't mean they ignore coaching them; just that they rarely get playing time.) No mention of Frank the Tank. I want that dude to contribute in the worst way. I've love to see him with 5-7 carries a game.

bigjamesharrison2
07-04-2009, 03:47 PM
No mention of Frank the Tank. I want that dude to contribute in the worst way. I've love to see him with 5-7 carries a game.

I especially want him to make a difference this year. IMHO I think he will be able to do wonders for our short yardage and Goal Line problems.

hindes204
07-04-2009, 03:52 PM
I'm more excited to see what the draft class of last year can do, with Mendy coming back after injury and sweed maybe being in the third reciever position

Psyychoward86
07-04-2009, 08:06 PM
Maybe this is the year the Steelers do things just a bit differently...Urbik is the only one i can see with good playing time.

BlockMonsta
07-05-2009, 02:53 AM
Well, Wallace is going to improve the return game I am sure about, I think he might be faster then Gary Russell...maybe. Also, I really hope to see Mendy share time, alot of time. Sweed I think will win the #3 spot and do quite well.

Galax Steeler
07-05-2009, 07:22 AM
Well, Wallace is going to improve the return game I am sure about, I think he might be faster then Gary Russell...maybe. Also, I really hope to see Mendy share time, alot of time. Sweed I think will win the #3 spot and do quite well.

Sweed might get the no.3 spot but I wouldn't count out McDonald. He could take the spot from Sweed if he don't watch it.

austinfrench76
07-05-2009, 11:40 AM
I believe that McDonald wins the #3 spot out of camp but splits time by mid season. I love the McDonald pick up. The Mewelde Moore signing of this year!

BehindSteelCurtain
07-05-2009, 06:46 PM
I am really excited to see what these guys can contribute this year.

Preacher
07-05-2009, 09:25 PM
I believe that McDonald wins the #3 spot out of camp but splits time by mid season. I love the McDonald pick up. The Mewelde Moore signing of this year!

Gotta disagree with you on McDonald. IMO, route running is vastly different in the NFL, especially with faster CB's, complicated blitz pickup/hot route packages, and simply remembering all the routes.

In the future may push for playing time, but I don't think he will this year, especially because Sweed seems to have nailed the route running, now he just has to get used to the speed of the game.

Funny thing though, remember when our WR's were known as slow but efficient?

BlockMonsta
07-05-2009, 10:11 PM
I dont think the speed of the game was Sweeds problem, I think it was his hands. I mean did he not drop both a deep TD pass from Big Ben and Leftwich? Plus, he was getting behind the D quite a bit so well see. I can see McDonald having and impact, but not a Moore type one.

The Definiti0n
07-05-2009, 10:39 PM
I've been the most excited to see Keenan Lewis in B&G. The kid just looks like the closest thing we have had in a "shut down corner" here since Rod Woodson. He's got tons of UPSIDE. :thumbsup:

0.o

tony hipchest
07-05-2009, 10:55 PM
Gotta disagree with you on McDonald. IMO, route running is vastly different in the NFL, especially with faster CB's, complicated blitz pickup/hot route packages, and simply remembering all the routes.

In the future may push for playing time, but I don't think he will this year, especially because Sweed seems to have nailed the route running, now he just has to get used to the speed of the game.

Funny thing though, remember when our WR's were known as slow but efficient?i think youre thinking of wallace. :noidea:

mcdonald is a seasoned vet who knows all about running routes in the nfl.

BlockMonsta
07-06-2009, 01:30 AM
Actually, the only pass I remember him catching from leftwich was a beautiful bomb, perfect spiral ... but sweed landed out of bounds in the endzone ... however it was a larry fitzgerald type catch ... falling/diving backwards- completely extended, almost horizontal, perfectly in his mittens, he just didn't get in bounds.

I thought someone posted a stat awhile back that he did not have a single drop in the regular season? and that his ONLY drop, as a matter of fact, was that lone single drop in the AFC championship game.

Coming out of college sweed was known for his sure-hands ... I'm not gonna dig through scouting reports, but i specifically remember that Todd McShay talking about his soft hands ... most all the reports rave about how he is a possession receiver that can make all the catches.

I think Sweeds problem was all upstairs ... maybe he put a little too much pressure on himself since he was disappointed that he not only wasn't a first round pick, but wasn't even the first receiver taken in the draft. I think he'll rebound very nicely with a full offseason of work and at worst he'll be splitting time with Mcdonald for the #3 spot ... He's a knicked up Hines-ward away from having substantial playing time underneath his belt.

Was that in the playoff game vs the Chargers, I know Leftwitch came in and threw that one pass but I am not sure. Well see, Washington had his fair amount of drops to but was a good target this year. Hopefully the same can be said about Sweed..

steelreserve
07-06-2009, 01:50 AM
Lewis, who starred at Oregon State[/B]

For some reason, it didn't click until I read that particular sentence, but I am like 10 times happier about this pick now. I've seen him in tons of Cal/Stanford/USC/UCLA games out here on the West Coast, and just never put it together that this was the same guy that everyone got their shit ruined by in the Pac-10. It was like, "wait ... THAT'S the guy we got? Bad-ASS!"

I am, like, totally pumped now. That guy is solid and as pro-ready as I think you'll ever find at that position coming out of school. Nice fricking job, FO.

Galax Steeler
07-06-2009, 06:25 AM
I dont think the speed of the game was Sweeds problem, I think it was his hands. I mean did he not drop both a deep TD pass from Big Ben and Leftwich? Plus, he was getting behind the D quite a bit so well see. I can see McDonald having and impact, but not a Moore type one.

I think alot of it was in his head as well. I do believe that we see a different Sweed this year.

El-Gonzo Jackson
07-06-2009, 04:35 PM
I am, like, totally pumped now. That guy is solid and as pro-ready as I think you'll ever find at that position coming out of school. Nice fricking job, FO.
I hope you are thinking of the same kid. From what I saw, Lewis is a tall and lean guy that is used to playing man to man. With the Steelers he is gonna learn to play some off man coverage and support the run more.

I wouldnt say he is the most "pro ready", but rather he has all the tools and has a chance to be a big time pro CB. If you just asked him to play man......fine. But, the Steelers will ask him to do a lot more like play zones, blitz, support the run and read more pre snap motion.

mmalone
07-06-2009, 04:49 PM
No mention of Frank the Tank. I want that dude to contribute in the worst way. I've love to see him with 5-7 carries a game.

If you go by rookie stats and starters. FB and RB 's have the best chance to play their first year in the NFL ...

Other than special teams, CB's and LB's need a few years. per stats...

So Frank has the best shot at starting at FB.

Wallace as a KR has the second best chance on special teams.

Hopefully all 9 start and play. But i bet not.

Texasteel
07-06-2009, 05:20 PM
I think alot of it was in his head as well. I do believe that we see a different Sweed this year.

If you don't, I will be totally shocked, well maybe not totally. Sweed was getting wide open at times. I think you are right, the drops started getting into his head and thing just went down hill. Sweed did not show that bad of hand a Texas, and I think he will be fine this year.

Texasteel
07-06-2009, 05:29 PM
If you go by rookie stats and starters. FB and RB 's have the best chance to play their first year in the NFL ...

Other than special teams, CB's and LB's need a few years. per stats...

So Frank has the best shot at starting at FB.

Wallace as a KR has the second best chance on special teams.

Hopefully all 9 start and play. But i bet not.

I don't really think you will see Frank more than once or twice a game this year, but if that once or twice is in the red zone on the 1 yard line it should be fun to see what he can do.

tony hipchest
07-06-2009, 05:33 PM
sweed was asked to come in cold, off the bench, and replace the steelers all time leading receiver and superbowl MVP for a shot to go to the biggest game of the season.

im sure all other rookies with as little regular season action woulda handled THAT pressure better.

as for this years rookies, i dont wanna get my hopes up but burnett, wallace, and tank, can really make our special teams exciting.

El-Gonzo Jackson
07-06-2009, 06:45 PM
i dont wanna get my hopes up but burnett, wallace, and tank, can really make our special teams exciting.

Or they can be kept on the sidelines by return men like Keiwan Ratliff and Stephan Logan. I really think Wallace will be fighting to dress on gameday as the #5WR.

tony hipchest
07-06-2009, 06:57 PM
Or they can be kept on the sidelines by return men like Keiwan Ratliff and Stephan Logan. I really think Wallace will be fighting to dress on gameday as the #5WR.can you ever remember such thick competition on the return teams?

just think, we had the likes of russell and dookie returning kicks and stallwarts like santonio and moore may not even sniff special teams next year.

Texasteel
07-06-2009, 07:04 PM
can you ever remember such thick competition on the return teams?

just think, we had the likes of russell and dookie returning kicks and stallwarts like santonio and moore may not even sniff special teams next year.

I don't think I have ever seen the Steelers in just this position. It feels good.

El-Gonzo Jackson
07-06-2009, 07:39 PM
can you ever remember such thick competition on the return teams?

just think, we had the likes of russell and dookie returning kicks and stallwarts like santonio and moore may not even sniff special teams next year.

Honestly, I cant think of a time when we had this many potential return men on the roster.(Logan, Ratliff, Burnett, Wallace, McDonald.) True that Holmes, Moore, Mendenhall might not even think of returning a kick.

The best depth that I can think of is maybe Will Blackwell, Richard Huntley, Hank Poteat(was Troy Edwards in that mix too??). I honestly hope Logan and Burnett become real finds in the return game. Wallace to me is just a straight line speed guy and in the NFL........everybody was on scholarship.

tony hipchest
07-06-2009, 07:52 PM
damn. totally forgot about ratliff, mendenhall, and mcdonald.

i guess its true for any player at any position, but do you think a. madison is seriously fighting for a roster spot this season?

we got alot of rookies with a ton of upside. (im hoping the tank is this years version of keyron fox- something tells me james harrisons roll on ST may be reduced).

BlockMonsta
07-06-2009, 08:04 PM
The one thing I really hope if Wallace wins the KR and PR job is that he can handle the ball better then Holmes did his first year returning. I can just remember watching the games, play by play on NFL..and it's like...Fumble #10 Holmes on PIT 15..or what ever it was...not fun.

El-Gonzo Jackson
07-06-2009, 08:58 PM
The one thing I really hope if Wallace wins the KR and PR job is that he can handle the ball better then Holmes did his first year returning. I can just remember watching the games, play by play on NFL..and it's like...Fumble #10 Holmes on PIT 15..or what ever it was...not fun.

From what I saw of Wallace at Ole Miss this season, he is pretty much a straight line speed guy with some OK route running skills. He will most likely be behind both Sweed and McDonald on the WR roster and I think Logan, Burnett, Ratliff, Holmes are all better KR than him.

I dont even think Wallace returned many punts at Ole miss. More of a KR. Wallace will probably be in sweats most of the season.

El-Gonzo Jackson
07-06-2009, 09:04 PM
damn. totally forgot about ratliff, mendenhall, and mcdonald.

i guess its true for any player at any position, but do you think a. madison is seriously fighting for a roster spot this season?

we got alot of rookies with a ton of upside. (im hoping the tank is this years version of keyron fox- something tells me james harrisons roll on ST may be reduced).

Tony, I think its reasonable addition and subtraction for a lot of the young talent.

Subtract: McFadden...add Ratliff
Sub: roster spot of Roye....add Keenan Lewis
Sub: roster spot of #10 O lineman....add Stephan Logan
Sub: Anthony Madison as final DB....add Joe Burnett who will cover kicks and maybe return punts.

The real question is who will shine as the return man. Logan or Burnett. I think one will win the PR job and the other may try to be stashed on the PS. The upside of Burnett as a nickel corner and PR probably gets him the roster spot.

tony hipchest
07-06-2009, 09:25 PM
Tony, I think its reasonable addition and subtraction for a lot of the young talent.

Subtract: McFadden...add Ratliff
Sub: roster spot of Roye....add Keenan Lewis
Sub: roster spot of #10 O lineman....add Stephan Logan
Sub: Anthony Madison as final DB....add Joe Burnett who will cover kicks and maybe return punts.

The real question is who will shine as the return man. Logan or Burnett. I think one will win the PR job and the other may try to be stashed on the PS. The upside of Burnett as a nickel corner and PR probably gets him the roster spot.it sucks because madison was such a ST standout, but where did his upside lay?

it seems that under tomlin, the days of holding a spot for the iwouma's, morey's, and rossum's are over.

if you cant prove to be capable of being "next" you may be gone, regardless of what you bring to 'teams.

El-Gonzo Jackson
07-07-2009, 12:41 AM
it sucks because madison was such a ST standout, but where did his upside lay?

it seems that under tomlin, the days of holding a spot for the iwouma's, morey's, and rossum's are over.

if you cant prove to be capable of being "next" you may be gone, regardless of what you bring to 'teams.

I dont think those days are gone. I just think that the Steelers D backfield reality is that :
-Townsend, Cark, Ratliff, Gay are all in the final year of their contract.
-keeping guys that can play CB like Burnett, Lewis on the team are far more important than just a ST gunner like Madison.

But, anything can happen and we may still see Madison on the team. I honestly think that either of the drafted guys like Lewis or Burnett can play ST gunner just as good and have better coverage abilities as a true CB.

mmalone
07-07-2009, 10:19 AM
I don't really think you will see Frank more than once or twice a game this year, but if that once or twice is in the red zone on the 1 yard line it should be fun to see what he can do.

After the first few pre-season games we will see what summers has in him. im sure the fans will give him the thumbs up or down real quick..

i cant wait to see him play along with the rest of last years and this years draft picks.

Texasteel
07-07-2009, 02:48 PM
After the first few pre-season games we will see what summers has in him. im sure the fans will give him the thumbs up or down real quick..

i cant wait to see him play along with the rest of last years and this years draft picks.

That is what I am afraid of. Seems like a lot of fans will want to make up their minds on this kid in a big hurry, and thats just not fair to him. All I know right now is that he was a tremendous power runner in school that seems to have the talent to play at the next level. If he does not do well right off, it does not mean he will not be a good pro., and if he does well right off, that doesn't mean he will be a good pro either. He needs time to prove himself. Personally, I hope he becomes a HOFer. We need to wait a while to find that out.

Like you, and everyone else, I am looking forward to seeing what this years draft picks can do in training camp.

mmalone
07-07-2009, 02:53 PM
Like you, and everyone else, I am looking forward to seeing what this years draft picks can do in training camp.


it will be exciting with at least 16 good rookies and first year players plugging away.

better battles for spots than last year i think.