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DIESELMAN
05-18-2006, 07:58 AM
We all know that Santonio Holmes looked good during his first professional minicamp, but how good will he be in 2006? Blogger Ryan Wilson investigates.

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Since commissioner Paul Tagliabue stepped to the podium way back on April 29 to inform us that the Steelers had selected wide receiver Santonio Holmes with their first-round pick, I haven't heard one Steelers' fan bemoan the selection. Nary a dissenter. That's pretty remarkable when you think about it. I guess this is what happens when your team wins the Super Bowl, re-signs almost all essential personnel, and has very few holes on the depth chart.
Last weekend, Pittsburgh wrapped up their minicamp and all reports on not only Holmes, but third-round wideout Willie Reid, were very encouraging. Like I mentioned Tuesday, that's what you expect to hear in May when guys are running around in shorts and tee shirts.

But looking ahead to the 2006 season, what are some realistic expectations for these two guys? As it stands, Hines Ward and Cedrick Wilson are the starters, and Nate Washington is penciled in as the slot receiver. While immediate contributions from the rookies would be welcome, that's more a luxury than a need at this point for the Steelers. In a perfect world, Holmes' NFL career would pick up right where his college career left off, but more often than not, wide receivers struggle early as professionals and don't usually have a "Hey, that guy's playing like a first-round draft pick!" type season until year three or so.

Honestly, I have no idea how Holmes' and Reid's season will unfold, but we can look to the past to get a general sense of what might happen in the future. Since 1970, the Steelers have drafted 60 wide receivers (at least by my count) and for your viewing pleasure I've thrown together some tables reflecting how these players have done.

Before going on, a couple of disclaimers: First, I'm only looking at players drafted by the Steelers, not guys acquired via free agency or trade. Second, this isn't some fancy pants analysis; it's just a look at how the average wideout performed based on experience and where they were drafted; I didn't account for quarterback, offensive philosophy, team record, or what your best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with a girl who saw Santonio pass-out at 31 Flavors last night. We're talking ballpark here ? just a quick and dirty look at how the 2006 season might shape up based on prior performances by guys in similar situations.

With that in mind, here's how Steelers-drafted wide receivers have fared based on their time in the league (YR1, YR2 ? etc.) and draft status (RD1, RD2 ? etc.):

RD1 RD2 RD3 RD4
YR1 (Rec) 30 20 10 10
(Rec Yds) 446 310 168 174
(Rec TDs) 3 2 1 1

YR2 (Rec) 42 35 24 8
(Rec Yds) 660 421 306 138
(Rec TDs) 6 2 2 1

YR3 (Rec) 41 35 36 7
(Rec Yds) 688 508 450 82
(Rec TDs) 3 2 2 1

YR4 (Rec) 39 22 56 32
(Rec Yds) 549 430 709 605
(Rec TDs) 3 4 5 4
So what does this all mean? Well, if Holmes and Reid are exactly average Steelers draft picks, we can expect them to put up 2006 numbers that might look like this:
Rec RecYds RecTDs
Holmes 30 446 3
Reid 10 168 1
Yeah, not great and not awful ... just, um, average. But if we're being realistic, this would be a respectable start to Holmes' career. And since Reid was drafted as a return threat first and a pass-catching threat second, any offense he provides as a rookie is gravy. Whatever the final regular season stats look like, it's important to remember that it often takes some time for guys to make the transition from college to the NFL.
For some perspective, consider this: In the last three seasons only two rookie first-rounders have finished in the top-30 in the league in receiving yards: Michael Clayton in 2004 and Andre Johnson in 2003. (Anquan Boldin finished third in the NFL in 2003, but he was a second-round pick.) During that time 16 wideouts were drafted in the first round.

If you're a Steelers fan you're also well aware that how a first-round rookie wide receiver starts his career certainly isn't indicative of how the rest of it will play out. Since 1970, here are how all the Steelers' first-round wideouts managed as rookies:

Rec RecYds RecTDs
P. Burress('00) 23 273 0
T. Edwards('99) 61 714 5
C. Johnson('94) 38 577 3
L. Lipps('84) 45 860 9
L. Swann('74) 11 208 2
F. Lewis('71) 3 44 0
Just in case you needed reminding, Edwards and Swann are two prime examples of the "It's not where you start, it's where you finish" clich? we should all be repeating to ourselves this summer and into training camp. I know I'd be pretty psyched if Holmes busted out 61-714-5 numbers in 2006 and I would probably quit my job to join the campaign for his Rookie of the Year candidacy.
Conversely, I would be just as bummed if he posted an 11-208-2. I wouldn't call Holmes a bust with those numbers ? not publicly anyway ? but I'm sure I'd be thinking it (at least subconsciously before quietly yelling at myself for being an unreasonable idiot). But that's the problem with being a fan: we're very impatient, and expect to see immediate returns on our investment even though for most of us that investment consists of the six-pack we down during the game while we throw things around the living room. Making things worse, of course, is that we'd readily trade a Troy Edwards rookie season for a Lynn Swann career, and then curse our luck when Edwards revealed himself to be ? well, Troy Edwards for the rest of his playing days.

You want more proof that first-round picks take time to develop? Here's what John Clayton wrote just yesterday:

High expectations drove ? Plaxico Burress from the [team] that drafted [him]? He had a 1,008-yard season in 2001 and a 1,325-yard season in 2002. Good numbers. Still, the Steelers' No. 1 receiver was Hines Ward, a tough, physical leader who has carried the Steelers to the Super Bowl. Unless you're the St. Louis Rams, it's hard to have two No. 1 receivers, so someone has to be No. 2, and that was Burress.
Because of that, Burress wasn't offered a contract following the 2004 season and he left for New York where he helped the Giants and Eli Manning make the playoffs.

So what have we learned? First, don't ever hire a fan to be an NFL general manager ? only bad things can happen (see my Edwards/Swann comment above ? and the Detroit Lions). Second, on average, first-year receivers don't put up great numbers, but we already knew that. (Still, it bears repeating.). Third, and more important, first-year performances do not a career make. That's something we also probably know, but conveniently choose to forget when a rookie has a gallingly bad game, or does something goofy like inexplicably spike-the-ball fumbles. Lucky for Holmes and Reid, Plax set the bar pretty low with that performance.

By: Ryan Wilson
SteelCityInsider.com
Date: May 18, 2006

Suitanim
05-18-2006, 09:02 AM
Hell, Troy Edwards had a pretty productive year as a rookie...I forgot about that. I look for Holmes to be in the 50-800-5 range.

clevestinks
05-18-2006, 10:26 AM
Suit, if he puts up 50-800-5 in his rookie year, thats way more than EL

coachspeak33
05-18-2006, 11:32 AM
I just dont know if he will get the opportunities to catch 50 balls... Especially when I think about how Cowher takes the air out of the ball in the second half with a lead.... I think the Steelers are gonna have a lot of leads in the second half of ball games this coming year.... I see Holmes catching around the same number of balls as El but for more yardage.... I think Holmes will have a greater YAC statistic than El.... Simpy put Holmes is a more polished WR right now than El.

Suitanim
05-18-2006, 12:45 PM
50's a little more than 3 balls a game...very doable, especially if that POS Edwards snagged 61.

Last year, he shared time with 2 other really talented WR's on a team that is just as conservative as the Steelers, and caught 53 balls in 12 games...it could actually be argued that OSU had TWO #1 WR's in Holmes and Teddy Ginn.

burgsville
05-18-2006, 02:33 PM
El was not a statistical machine. Big play man but disappeared some games. Look for Holmes to produce 30-40 catches. Gravy !! Dieselman you are a statistical god !!!

Haiku_Dirtt
05-18-2006, 04:41 PM
Nary a dissenter. That's pretty remarkable when you think about it. I guess this is what happens when your team wins the Super Bowl, re-signs almost all essential personnel, and has very few holes on the depth chart.


This pick - and to be honest only in retrospect - is about the only player we could've taken in the first that precludes me from being a dissenter. Of course only time will tell but passing on LenDale White could have been a mistake...

Unless you're getting a guy like Holmes. Now another move up in the first and it looks like a another coup.

And this perspective puts enormous weight on Whiz to maximize Verron and Heath. I think we know what we get from Fast Willie. So let the year play out and hope & pray Duce goes back to being Un-Duced.

Then worry about bringing in a new RB next off-season

Black@Gold Forever32
05-18-2006, 04:47 PM
I posted before that Holmes will have around 40 catches for 700 yards and 6 TD's and I'm sticking to it.

Haiku_Dirtt
05-18-2006, 04:49 PM
El was not a statistical machine. Big play man but disappeared some games. Look for Holmes to produce 30-40 catches. Gravy !! Dieselman you are a statistical god !!!


ARE not only disappeared some games but he was flat out counter-productive at times. Perhaps a little unfair but I put that New England loss last year squarely on his shoulders.

That lateral to Hines was most likely - no it was - the most stupid play of the year. And no not even Maddox because I blame the coaching staff for him even being in the game. We had unbelievable momentum and a first down in the red zone and the Pats were down and playing on their heels.

We lost by 3.

Black@Gold Forever32
05-18-2006, 04:58 PM
ARE not only disappeared some games but he was flat out counter-productive at times. Perhaps a little unfair but I put that New England loss last year squarely on his shoulders.

That lateral to Hines was most likely - no it was - the most stupid play of the year. And no not even Maddox because I blame the coaching staff for him even being in the game. We had unbelievable momentum and a first down in the red zone and the Pats were down and playing on their heels.

We lost by 3.

Yep I agree that El cost us that game against the Pats. That play gave the Pats life in that game. I was shocked when El did that. I had visions of Plax running in my head when that happened. Plax his rookie year in 2000 when he spiked a live ball.

Livinginthe past
05-18-2006, 05:16 PM
I dont know if I can pick exact numbers for receptions or yardage for Holmes - but I think that if alot of them past receivers played in next years offense with Ben at QB then they would be above the average for a 1st year Pittsburgh 1st round Wideout.

I do think that the Steelers will increase the throwing % next year for 3 pretty good reasons.

1. Ben R. - I have him down as the 2nd best QB in the NFL, as I have stated before, and not Peyton Manning. He is the guy that dragged his team through some real tough road games in the hottest competition of all - the post season.

Could Manning do this? The answer has to be no - he has lost alot of his big games, and alot of them with homefield advantage too.

2. Steelers WR's - Im going to include Heath Miller in this group. They will surely improve by some distance for next year - bearing in mind they will all have played an extra year in the NFL and in the Steeler system.
Steelers need a No.1 receiver - Holmes could be that guy.

The WR corps from last year was one of the weaker in the NFL, just imagine what Ben can do with another years learning, the confidence of winning the big one and an improved WR corps.

3. Lack of Bettis - When the Steelers wanted to shut a game down in the 2nd half - the ball inevitably ended up in Bettis's hands. Fast Willie wont be able to grind the 3-4 yd gains that Bettis was so expert at - there has to be huge doubts whether Staley can stay fit enough to take that kind of remorseless punishment.

NM

tony hipchest
05-18-2006, 05:41 PM
I dont know if I can pick exact numbers for receptions or yardage for Holmes - but I think that if alot of them past receivers played in next years offense with Ben at QB then they would be above the average for a 1st year Pittsburgh 1st round Wideout.

I do think that the Steelers will increase the throwing % next year for 3 pretty good reasons.

1. Ben R. - I have him down as the 2nd best QB in the NFL, as I have stated before, and not Peyton Manning. He is the guy that dragged his team through some real tough road games in the hottest competition of all - the post season.

Could Manning do this? The answer has to be no - he has lost alot of his big games, and alot of them with homefield advantage too.

2. Steelers WR's - Im going to include Heath Miller in this group. They will surely improve by some distance for next year - bearing in mind they will all have played an extra year in the NFL and in the Steeler system.
Steelers need a No.1 receiver - Holmes could be that guy.

The WR corps from last year was one of the weaker in the NFL, just imagine what Ben can do with another years learning, the confidence of winning the big one and an improved WR corps.

3. Lack of Bettis - When the Steelers wanted to shut a game down in the 2nd half - the ball inevitably ended up in Bettis's hands. Fast Willie wont be able to grind the 3-4 yd gains that Bettis was so expert at - there has to be huge doubts whether Staley can stay fit enough to take that kind of remorseless punishment.

NM

holmes will be that guy. just not immediately. funny you mention that cause i just posted a really good article by john clayton on the exact subject. with bettis being gone, i am satisfied that duce and verron can do the grind it out role. verron averaged 4.7 yds a carry in that role last year in mop up duty when most teams were putting 9-10 men in the box. thats impressive. if that fails they still got the humean wrecking ball to give a shot.

steelers have been taking baby steps with bringing ben along. i dont see any big time changes but a 55%-45% run/pass ratio isnt out of the question. i still look for them to try and lead the league in time of possession to keep their defense fresh and aggressive.

Livinginthe past
05-18-2006, 06:46 PM
holmes will be that guy. just not immediately. funny you mention that cause i just posted a really good article by john clayton on the exact subject. with bettis being gone, i am satisfied that duce and verron can do the grind it out role. verron averaged 4.7 yds a carry in that role last year in mop up duty when most teams were putting 9-10 men in the box. thats impressive. if that fails they still got the humean wrecking ball to give a shot.

steelers have been taking baby steps with bringing ben along. i dont see any big time changes but a 55%-45% run/pass ratio isnt out of the question. i still look for them to try and lead the league in time of possession to keep their defense fresh and aggressive.

55/45 would certainly be a good target to aim for.

I dont think the problem in the past for the Steelers (in the playoffs) is that they have simply run too much - its that they were unwilling/unable to balance the attack a little.

You will know more about this than me, but it has seemed in past seasons that the Steelers have dominated on the ground during the regular season but then come the playoffs they have had the running game shut down and have resorted to pass-wacky tactics - im sure there have been some playoff losses where Kordell threw 40 passes.

Its all about options - if you can pass then it opens up the running game, and vice versa - although I certainly agree about running the ball to give the aggresive D a breather - its something we like in Patriotville aswell.

NM

tony hipchest
05-18-2006, 07:17 PM
I dont think the problem in the past for the Steelers (in the playoffs) is that they have simply run too much - its that they were unwilling/unable to balance the attack a little.



trying/or having to balance the attack a little is really what has cost them in the past

in 97 abandonning the running game and trying to get cute with the passing game is what hurt them. trying to incorporate a little more passing and ballance was what cost them a trip to the sb. jerome had a great year and was having a really good game. the ball was taken out of his hands at the most inopportune time. grind it out and doing it the way that had gotten them there was what was called for.

in 01 jerome was leading the league in rushing until he tore a hammy against the vikings. he tried to rush back against the sb defending champion ravens. a pain killing shot went awry and left his leg numb and he was a last minute scratch. the next week the injured bettis was still ineffective. (zeoroue was not the answere to a team that had adopted the steelers defensive format) despite 3 kordell int and 2 special team td's given up, the steelers were still right there.

in 04, again duce was on pace to lead the league in rushing. and again the steelers lost their #1 rusher. he was injured (by a sucker punch from the pats no less). jerome held ground but with a rookie qb, against a veteran savy defense and coaching staff, the pats were able to dictate what the steelers could do.

in 76, the greatest football team ever assembled, again missed another perfect sb opportunity when franco harris and r. blier were injured and unable to play.

knock the running philosophy of cowher all you want. it has been proven it doesnt work if you dont have the runners in place. carolina flopped w/o a runner last year. take away s. alexander and seattle dont make the sb. san diego without lt is a 4-12 team. pats dont win a 3rd bowl w/o dillon. the cheifs are a horrible team w/o priest or johnson. the cowboys dont do squat without emmitt smith being able to play in the playoffs. bills dont go to 4 sb's without thurman, and the rams never sniff a sb w/ an injured faulk.

DIESELMAN
05-18-2006, 07:52 PM
Cowher is old school, smashmouth in your face jam the football down their throats is old school. We will not immediately get away from that. As the years have gone by you can notice a slight change in Cowhers coaching style. Hes gone from a micromanager to trusting his asst coaches a little more. Big Ben is coming of age and we are starting to get more weapons in place for his arm and play action abilities. Us passing more and opening it up in the next few years wouldn't surprise me at all, we have the weapons to do it all and to keep other teams on their toes week in and week out. Here comes the left, here comes the left.......oh shit where did that right come from? Us winning XL wasn't just another Super Bowl win but in fact it was a wake up call to the rest of the league to be prepared for another Steeler dynasty that will be talked about for ages to come. HERE WE GO STEELERS HERE WE GO!!!!! :helmet:

tony hipchest
05-18-2006, 08:03 PM
Cowher is old school, smashmouth in your face jam the football down their throats is old school. We will not immediately get away from that. As the years have gone by you can notice a slight change in Cowhers coaching style. Hes gone from a micromanager to trusting his asst coaches a little more. Big Ben is coming of age and we are starting to get more weapons in place for his arm and play action abilities. Us passing more and opening it up in the next few years wouldn't surprise me at all, we have the weapons to do it all and to keep other teams on their toes week in and week out. Here comes the left, here comes the left.......oh shit where did that right come from? Us winning XL wasn't just another Super Bowl win but in fact it was a wake up call to the rest of the league to be prepared for another Steeler dynasty that will be talked about for ages to come. HERE WE GO STEELERS HERE WE GO!!!!! :helmet: if you look at what has made the patriots offensively successful during their 4 year sb run, its the capability to run either a 4 wr set, spread em out offense, or a power running game at will.

the steelers will now be at this point. the pats have found success adopting the steelers defensive philosophies, now the steelers will find success adopting some of the pats offensive philosophies with a greater capability to go deep at any given point. (without relying on trick or gadget plays to do so)

TheTruestBlackGoldFan
05-18-2006, 08:22 PM
Suit, if he puts up 50-800-5 in his rookie year, thats way more than EL

Randle El was one of the overratted Recivers we seem to get ever 5 years...El could never be number one...he struggles at number 2...

Livinginthe past
05-19-2006, 03:25 AM
trying/or having to balance the attack a little is really what has cost them in the past

in 97 abandonning the running game and trying to get cute with the passing game is what hurt them. trying to incorporate a little more passing and ballance was what cost them a trip to the sb. jerome had a great year and was having a really good game. the ball was taken out of his hands at the most inopportune time. grind it out and doing it the way that had gotten them there was what was called for.

in 01 jerome was leading the league in rushing until he tore a hammy against the vikings. he tried to rush back against the sb defending champion ravens. a pain killing shot went awry and left his leg numb and he was a last minute scratch. the next week the injured bettis was still ineffective. (zeoroue was not the answere to a team that had adopted the steelers defensive format) despite 3 kordell int and 2 special team td's given up, the steelers were still right there.

in 04, again duce was on pace to lead the league in rushing. and again the steelers lost their #1 rusher. he was injured (by a sucker punch from the pats no less). jerome held ground but with a rookie qb, against a veteran savy defense and coaching staff, the pats were able to dictate what the steelers could do.

in 76, the greatest football team ever assembled, again missed another perfect sb opportunity when franco harris and r. blier were injured and unable to play.

knock the running philosophy of cowher all you want. it has been proven it doesnt work if you dont have the runners in place. carolina flopped w/o a runner last year. take away s. alexander and seattle dont make the sb. san diego without lt is a 4-12 team. pats dont win a 3rd bowl w/o dillon. the cheifs are a horrible team w/o priest or johnson. the cowboys dont do squat without emmitt smith being able to play in the playoffs. bills dont go to 4 sb's without thurman, and the rams never sniff a sb w/ an injured faulk.

Thanks Tony,

Thats a pretty nic recap.

I would question whether we dont win a 3rd SB without Dillon though - the previous 2 SB wins we had Antowain Smith leading the rushing game and he barely rushed for a 1000 yeards them seasons and his avergage was 3.3 or somewhere close.

As a general rule a healthy running game certainly has to help you chnaces of winning the big one - its just that the Patriots had to substitute a short passing game to take its place in the previous years.

Oh, and I also think that San diego would be better than 4-12 if they had Michael Turner starting for LT - but thats an opinion thing.

NM

Livinginthe past
05-19-2006, 03:26 AM
trying/or having to balance the attack a little is really what has cost them in the past

in 97 abandonning the running game and trying to get cute with the passing game is what hurt them. trying to incorporate a little more passing and ballance was what cost them a trip to the sb. jerome had a great year and was having a really good game. the ball was taken out of his hands at the most inopportune time. grind it out and doing it the way that had gotten them there was what was called for.

in 01 jerome was leading the league in rushing until he tore a hammy against the vikings. he tried to rush back against the sb defending champion ravens. a pain killing shot went awry and left his leg numb and he was a last minute scratch. the next week the injured bettis was still ineffective. (zeoroue was not the answere to a team that had adopted the steelers defensive format) despite 3 kordell int and 2 special team td's given up, the steelers were still right there.

in 04, again duce was on pace to lead the league in rushing. and again the steelers lost their #1 rusher. he was injured (by a sucker punch from the pats no less). jerome held ground but with a rookie qb, against a veteran savy defense and coaching staff, the pats were able to dictate what the steelers could do.

in 76, the greatest football team ever assembled, again missed another perfect sb opportunity when franco harris and r. blier were injured and unable to play.

knock the running philosophy of cowher all you want. it has been proven it doesnt work if you dont have the runners in place. carolina flopped w/o a runner last year. take away s. alexander and seattle dont make the sb. san diego without lt is a 4-12 team. pats dont win a 3rd bowl w/o dillon. the cheifs are a horrible team w/o priest or johnson. the cowboys dont do squat without emmitt smith being able to play in the playoffs. bills dont go to 4 sb's without thurman, and the rams never sniff a sb w/ an injured faulk.

Thanks Tony,

Thats a pretty nice recap.

I would question whether we dont win a 3rd SB without Dillon though - the previous 2 SB wins we had Antowain Smith leading the rushing game and he barely rushed for a 1000 yards them seasons and his avergage was 3.3 or somewhere close.

As a general rule a healthy running game certainly has to help you chances of winning the big one - its just that the Patriots had to substitute a short passing game to take its place in the previous years.

Oh, and I also think that San Diego would be better than 4-12 if they had Michael Turner starting for LT - but thats an opinion thing.

NM