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mesaSteeler
12-31-2010, 07:37 PM
Jared Veldheer: The OT Who Should Have Been the Steelers’ 2010 2nd-Round Pick
Posted on December 31, 2010 by ted
Steelers Lounge
http://www.steelerslounge.com/2010/12/jared-veldheer-ot-steelers-2010-2ndround-pick/

The Steelers’ 2010 draft class has already paid huge dividends and appears to be one of Pittsburgh’s best and deepest draft hauls in recent years. Eight of the 10 draft picks are still on the 53-man roster and five are making key contributions for the 11-4 Steelers, including rookie Pro-Bowl selection Maurkice Pouncey.

However, the one head-scratcher from that draft was tabbing OLB prospect Jason Worilds in the second round, since that was earlier than most had Worilds projected and he will likely not start in Pittsburgh for several years – if ever. Instead, as J.J. can affirm that I begged for at the time, that second-round pick should have been Jared Veldheer. The Steelers would be better off now and have a much brighter future at offensive tackle if they had picked Veldheer last year.

Veldheer is now the starting left tackle for the Raiders. The 6-foot-8, 315-pounder actually began the season as the team’s starting center, but has been protecting the blindside for the last eight games for an Oakland squad that is second in the NFL in rushing yards per game (152.3) despite having no quality receivers or a decent quarterback.

Now, truth be told, I always call out at least two possible names as desired picks after the first round and the other name I yelled last year before the Steelers’ second-round selection was Golden Tate, the Notre Dame receiver. Tate, though, is nowhere near as good as Steelers’ third-round pick Emmanuel Sanders, and having Tate instead of Sanders would make a slow Pittsburgh receiving corps even slower.

Moreover, I did not expect Veldheer to come in from Hillsdale College and be a starting left tackle in the NFL as a rookie. No one did. In fact, I figured Veldheer would be a reserve as a rookie whose only chance of starting for any team would be at right guard, figured that he might be able to start at right tackle by year No. 2 and could theoretically be a starting left tackle down the road.

Still, tackle is such a huge need for the Steelers in the future that Veldheer was worthy of the Steelers’ second-round pick last year, particularly since many experts had him going off the board earlier even though he ultimately lasted until the fifth pick of the third round.

Now, no one could project that Pittsburgh would lose both of its starting OTs (Willie Colon and Max Starks) to season-ending injuries in 2010. The signing of veteran Flozell Adams to replace Colon saved the Steelers’ season and joureyman Jonathan Scott has been serviceable at times in replacing Starks at left tackle.

However, tackle was a major need for the Steelers in the 2010 NFL Draft, since Colon is slated to be an unrestricted free agent after 2010 (assuming a CBA is reached) and the team had virtually no depth behind Colon and Starks on the outside.

But yet the Steelers finished off their 10th consecutive draft without taking an offensive tackle prospect in the first two rounds, the only team in the NFL to not do so in the past decade.:banging::banging::banging:

Roger Goodell’s recent comments about the league’s labor strife makes it now seem more likely that a labor accord will be reached that allows Colon to become an UFA, meaning there is a good chance he will leave the Steelers, since the front office has never put a premium on retaining Colon, who will also be coming back from an Achilles tear. That means Adams will probably again be the team’s right tackle in 2011 when he is 36.

That also means that tackle is a major need for the Steelers in the 2011 draft, although the veteran Steelers again will have more immediate needs (RG, CB), where upgrades could give them a better chance of winning another Super Bowl.

However, it is inconceivable to project Adams to still play in 2012, meaning that the Steelers will have to draft his likely replacement this April in a down year for tackle prospects or expect a late, first-round pick in 2012 to start at tackle as a rookie. It sure would have been nice to have Veldheer inked in as a future, long-term starter at one tackle spot.

Now, that does not mean that Worilds is a bad player. He was just a luxury pick by a franchise with an aging roster that could not afford to do so in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Pro Football Weekly wrongly dubbed Worilds as one of the five biggest reaches in the entire 2011 NFL Draft. But that was absurd, since he was projected as a 2nd-4th-round pick by almost every draft service.

Worilds, however, may have been available with the Steelers’ third-round pick, as tweener DE/OLB Jermaine Cunningham was the only player listed by anyone as an OLB prospect that was selected after the Worilds pick before the Steelers took Thad Gibson in the fourth round, only to release him early in the season because they were too deep at linebacker.

Worilds has also been a special-teams stud for the Steelers this fall and showcased raw speed as a pass rusher in helping the Steelers preserve a 23-22 win at Miami this year after starter LaMarr Woodley left the game due to injury.

But Worilds is actually the team’s No. 4 OLB, since ILB Lawrence Timmons moves to the outside if either of the Steelers’ superstar starting OLBs in James Harrison and Woodley goes down.

Woodley is likely to be signed to a long-term deal as soon as possible and will be franchised (the tag will likely be restored if/when a new CBA is reached) to keep him in Pittsburgh if a deal cannot be worked out quickly.

Harrison, meanwhile, has shown no signs of slowing down in the second year of a six-year contract, which likely means he has another two — and probably three — years as a starter. That means Worilds could be an unrestricted free agent before he ever becomes a regular starter in Pittsburgh; and teams should never take someone with their second-round pick to be a backup for four years while ignoring positions of major need.

And do not buy the BS motto that the Steelers or any other team that claims to take the best player available (BPA). Wrong. The Steelers come into drafts with positions of need and look to fill those positions in various rounds, taking into account their overall draft board.

The Steelers did not need a starting RB when it selected Rashard Mendenhall in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft, but they did need a No. 2 RB and knew that Willie Parker would not be an NFL starter for much longer. With the exception of Mendenhall and QB Ben Roethlisberger (2004), all other Steeler first-round picks in the past decade filled immediate needs.

Moreover, the only times Pittsburgh drafts the BPA on its board in the first four rounds without taking into account its needs has been for OLBs in the mostly successful Kevin Colbert era, with the one exception of taking TE Matt Spaeth in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

At that time the Steelers had its young, starting tight end Heath Miller secured to a long-term deal and also had a quality No. 2 tight end in Jermane Tuman, who had just completed the first season of a three-year deal. However, Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Bruce Arians argued for drafting Spaeth that year, because of his value as a red-zone target and as a receiver.

Spaeth was a poor blocker for his first 2.5 years before improving in that respect in the second half of the 2009 season and that has continued this fall. Unfortunately, his increased bulk has negated any separation speed he once possessed, and his 36 career receptions to go with six career drops does not equate to a good pick when the Steelers passed up Marshal Yanda at that spot despite everyone projecting Pittsburgh to take at least one offensive linemen with its first three picks that year. Yanda has started all 15 games for the Ravens this fall.

However, at least Spaeth was drafted in the round where most expected him to go. All other head-scratchers in the Colbert era were outside linebacker picks. Taking Bruce Davis in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft was absurd since Pittsburgh’s need for linebacker depth was much less then than it was in 2010 and Davis was projected as a 4th-6th-rounder. He was a bust. My preferred pick in that spot was Oniel Cousins and yes, I would much rather have the Ravens’ offensive line than our current group.

And of course the stupidest pick of all was taking Alonzo Jackson in the second round in 2003 when no one else thought the 266-pound Jackson could convert to a 3-4 OLB, nor did anyone project him to go in the second round after an unimpressive postseason.

In other words, the Steelers generally do not take BPA or reach for players at non-need areas unless they are outside linebackers, and that philosophy is why Pittsburgh has the best starting four and deepest group of linebackers in the NFL to go with lousy No. 2-3 corners, a poor offensive line, and an aging defensive line.

Colbert and the entire Steelers’ front office should be commended for a superb 2010 NFL Draft and running an exemplary organization. But the Steelers’ proclivity for ignoring offensive tackle while falling in love with too many outside linebackers in the draft is why the team’s future at tackle looks so bleak.

mesaSteeler
12-31-2010, 08:11 PM
Rereading this excellent analysis I can't help but wonder WHY?

Why have we ignored the tackle position?

Is it because LeBeau is in love with linebackers?

Is it because Tomlin would rather daft skill players on offensive instead of lineman? I seem to recall he said that a few years ago.

Is it because Arians is a fool?

What ever the reason why our poor O-Line is taking years of Ben's career.

Why have we done this? Thoughts?

TRH
12-31-2010, 08:18 PM
I disagree with the analysis that Worilds won't be a starter "for several years...if ever". If ever?
But i do agree that they should have taken Veldheer. What the hell were they thinking? It really, REALLY shows that we've ignored O-Linemen in the draft. Its really coming back to bite us now. It's not only affecting the passing game, but now its affecting Mendenhall's running as well.
We really need to get off this "ignore the teams needs...draft the best player available" soapbox and start drafting what we need.
I will absolutely laugh my ass off next year if we take a Linebacker in the 1st round. I'm joking...but the funny thing is...i wouldn't be surprised!!!!

Steeldude
01-01-2011, 03:18 AM
Rereading this excellent analysis I can't help but wonder WHY?

Why have we ignored the tackle position? because the steelers have become content with low-round picks and below-average free agents.

Is it because LeBeau is in love with linebackers? they were ignoring LBs too until they draft two early(timmons, woodley).

Is it because Tomlin would rather daft skill players on offensive instead of lineman? I seem to recall he said that a few years ago. IMO, the steelers have become enamored with drafting WRs early.

Is it because Arians is a fool? could be, but i don't know how much say, if any, he has in the draft.

What ever the reason why our poor O-Line is taking years of Ben's career. very true and i don't see it changing. although BR deserves a lot of criticism for holding the ball too long. arians is to blame too for sending WRs on such long routes.

Why have we done this? Thoughts? who knows? i have been saying the steelers need to address this the O-line since 2002. many fans shouted me down on message boards for suggesting such a thing. most of those fans were the ones clamoring for WRs. i will be surprised if the steelers actually put some thought into drafting an O-line in the 2011 draft

...

Rick5895
01-01-2011, 04:45 AM
I would assume Worilds was taken as a a depth for the older Harrison and the fact the Woodlley is in his last year of his contract. Worilds is also a very good special teams player. At the time of the draft we had 2 decent starting OT (Starks and Colon).
It is easy to go back and say shoulda, woulda , coulda, but reaching for a player, and that is what we would have done in the case of Veldeer, in the 2nd round can be a mistake. We have had very good production from our draft classs this season.
Pouncey is a pro bowler, Worilds is learning OLB and has been a force on ST, Sanders and Brown have done a great job for us.
I am sure we will see an OL in the upcoming draft as well as depth at other positions. Over the years the Steelers seeming draft the best player available (as they see it) and it has worked out pretty well.

pete74
01-01-2011, 05:57 AM
I would love to have Jared Veldheer. i would take him over Worilds in a second but i still have a ton of predraft magazines and there isnt a single writer that thoght he could make it as a LT in the NFL. most people thought he would be playing guard and he has sure proven them wrong with his strong play.

there are many players that the writers wrote off and said they would never be top players that proved them wrong. I would love to be able to go back and see what the top anylists said about Colston before the Saints drafted him in the 6th round.

anyway there are no takebacks in the draft so there is no point worrying about who we could of had. the GM's job is to figure out who will be able to make it in the NFL and there is no such thing as a perfect formula for that

Atlanta Dan
01-01-2011, 07:17 AM
Steelers were not going to pick another OL in the second round of the draft after picking Pouncey in the first round no matter who was available - I would be surprised if the Steelers have used their top 2 picks in the draft on the same position (even LB) anytime in the past 15 years

Whodis
01-01-2011, 07:36 AM
Steelers were not going to pick another OL in the second round of the draft after picking Pouncey in the first round no matter who was available - I would be surprised if the Steelers have used their top 2 picks in the draft on the same position (even LB) anytime in the past 15 years

^ I agree with this. And it's not like we have that great of a track record with drafting O-linemen in the 1st two rounds

MasterOfPuppets
01-01-2011, 01:21 PM
next year when someone out bids the steelers for lamarr woodley , you guys will be glad they took worilds.

mesaSteeler
01-01-2011, 01:29 PM
next year when someone out bids the steelers for lamarr woodley , you guys will be glad they took worilds.

And next year or even this year after Ben gets sacked for the umpteenth time, Mendy is downed for a loss in the backfield, and we still can't score from the red zone, I 'll remember that we don't have good tackles.

TRH
01-01-2011, 01:35 PM
next year when someone out bids the steelers for lamarr woodley , you guys will be glad they took worilds.

THAT...my friend...is EXACTLY what is going to happen. Even though i feel we've missed the boat the last few years on drafting good O-Linemen, i like the Worilds pick...i think he's going to be a good one.
On the Woodley front, we will easily be outbid and although i think we'll thrown in an offer, i don't think we'll pursue that much. We're paying Troy, Ben and Harrison armored car money i don't think we can add Woodley to that trio.

SH-Rock
01-01-2011, 01:55 PM
I expect Woodley to come back. They'll probably franchise him and see what happens the year after.

mesaSteeler
01-01-2011, 02:08 PM
I expect Woodley to come back. They'll probably franchise him and see what happens the year after.

THIS^

and we will still have bad tackles.

austinfrench76
01-01-2011, 02:56 PM
I don't think its about taking Woirlds over Valdheer or this guy over that guy: its the fact that such a well run organization, especially when it comes to drafting has ignored their biggest achilles heel each year when they have a franchise QB!!!! Ben will lose years off his career. I'm aware he hangs onto the ball too long and runs around a lot BUT he also get demolished immediately quite a bit.

Its is truly mind boggling how blatant it has become, that we just over look the OLine every draft. I'm just venting, I have absolutely no idea what to do to move forward except to say that we are in a bad spot with the OG/OT positions on this team. Gotta think they'll address it this year even though I don't see anything changing with the FO.

Atlanta Dan
01-01-2011, 03:24 PM
I don't think its about taking Woirlds over Valdheer or this guy over that guy: its the fact that such a well run organization, especially when it comes to drafting has ignored their biggest achilles heel each year when they have a franchise QB!!!! Ben will lose years off his career. I'm aware he hangs onto the ball too long and runs around a lot BUT he also get demolished immediately quite a bit.

Its is truly mind boggling how blatant it has become, that we just over look the OLine every draft. I'm just venting, I have absolutely no idea what to do to move forward except to say that we are in a bad spot with the OG/OT positions on this team. Gotta think they'll address it this year even though I don't see anything changing with the FO.

Ummm .. the Steelers drafted Pouncey in the first round this year

In 2009 the Steelers had needs on the OL and DL; they drafted Hood in the first round in part because four (4) OT and 2 centers had been drafted by the time the Steelers picked at #32 - maybe the Steelers should have traded up to the Bengals pick that year and selected Andre Smith:noidea:

http://www.nfl.com/draft/2009

When you reach to fill a need it can blow up (see, e.g. - Jermaine Stephens in 1996)

You cannot plug every hole in a league dedicated to seeking parity , especially when you are the second most successful team in the league over the past decade and usually draft at the bottom of the first round

I agree the OL is a mess but overall believe Colbert has done OK

MasterOfPuppets
01-01-2011, 03:52 PM
And next year or even this year after Ben gets sacked for the umpteenth time, Mendy is downed for a loss in the backfield, and we still can't score from the red zone, I 'll remember that we don't have good tackles.
well you gotta pick your poison ... the defense has been the straw that stirs the steelers drink for decades . they put high priority in maintaining linebackers that fit the system. the difference between a quality 3-4 D and a not so good one ( see sanfran ) is having good OLBers that can pressure the qb.

dunkuntou
01-01-2011, 11:08 PM
You know hindsight is always 20/20. I have a draft blog and have written for publications on the draft in the past but calling some of this picks obvious mishaps is careless.

Many teams liked Bruce Davis (hence why he is still in the NFL) and he had a very productive college career. Taking him was definitely worth the gamble.

In 2001, most people thought Casey Hampton was a second round talent. Colbert took him in Round 1.

In 2002, most people thought Larry Foote was too slow to play in the NFL. Colbert took him in Round 4. Also, that year Colbert took Brett Keisel with pick 242. 19 picks from the bottom of the draft. Not to mention James Harrison was an undrafted free agent that year.

In 2003, he traded up to get Troy Polamalu, who also didn't have the most glowing scouting report. In Round 4 he took Ike Taylor. If he took Taylor in Round 2 instead of Jackson would everyone be happy?

I can do this for every year in the draft. The reason this team is good every year is because of the way they draft so don't forget it.

As far as Veldheer goes. Yes, he is a nice prospect and yes no one thought he would be anything more than a backup this year but you already have him annointed as a franchise left tackle. As of right now he is no better than Jonathan Scott. Lets wait and see where he is in 4 years.

pittguy578
01-02-2011, 12:48 AM
I think the linebacker "greatness" on the Steelers is produced by the system and not necessarily by the players themselves. Everyone in the draft is going to be nearly the same in terms of physical abilities. It's sort of like the running back situation in Denver during the nineties. The o-line was so good the Broncos could put my grandma in and get 1500 yards a season. It's not the same with an O lineman,. Either they have the ability to block the best athletes on the other side of the ball or they don't.

pete74
01-02-2011, 04:02 AM
You know hindsight is always 20/20. I have a draft blog and have written for publications on the draft in the past but calling some of this picks obvious mishaps is careless.

Many teams liked Bruce Davis (hence why he is still in the NFL) and he had a very productive college career. Taking him was definitely worth the gamble.

In 2001, most people thought Casey Hampton was a second round talent. Colbert took him in Round 1.

In 2002, most people thought Larry Foote was too slow to play in the NFL. Colbert took him in Round 4. Also, that year Colbert took Brett Keisel with pick 242. 19 picks from the bottom of the draft. Not to mention James Harrison was an undrafted free agent that year.

In 2003, he traded up to get Troy Polamalu, who also didn't have the most glowing scouting report. In Round 4 he took Ike Taylor. If he took Taylor in Round 2 instead of Jackson would everyone be happy?

I can do this for every year in the draft. The reason this team is good every year is because of the way they draft so don't forget it.

As far as Veldheer goes. Yes, he is a nice prospect and yes no one thought he would be anything more than a backup this year but you already have him annointed as a franchise left tackle. As of right now he is no better than Jonathan Scott. Lets wait and see where he is in 4 years.

Veldheer isnt in the same catagory as Scott. he is a much better player and will only get better. Scott will never even be a good player

TRH
01-02-2011, 08:31 AM
This is all good and fine and we have drafted some pretty good other players, but the fact remains that the Steelers have largely ignored the OL for the most part while other teams have stacked themselves up. It shows painfully when our QB is scrambling for his life (and the game) on nearly every play while other plenty of other QB's have the luxury of standing back there for a ridiculous amount of time.