View Full Version : Development, Not Drafting, Problem for Steelers in Tomlin Era

Hawaii 5-0
03-28-2013, 10:52 PM
Development, Not Drafting, Problem for Steelers in Tomlin Era



After being bested by the Tim Tebow-led Broncos in the 2011 Wild Card round and missing the entire playoff dance in 2012, many Steelers fans and media members have come to attack the practices of head coach Mike Tomlin.

Specifically, they've mostly brought his drafting philosophy into question.

It's true that there have been a good number of high profile Tomlin-era picks haven't panned out since the coach took over the team in 2007, but is it truly his drafting style or the players themselves that are the problem?

If you take a look back at the Steelers' drafts since 2007, most of them come with very positive reviews.In 2011, Fox Sports analyst Adam Caplan gave the Steelers a "B" for a draft that included Cameron Heyward, Marcus Gilbert and others citing that the team "nice job of drafting for value, which is usually the case with this team."

Even back in 2008, which may turn out to be the worst draft in the Steelers history, experts were raving about the job Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert did. Larry Weisman of USA Today gave Pittsburgh the third-highest grade for the class saying:

"Terrific bit of luck getting RB Rashard Mendenhall 23rd, especially when the o-linemen they liked best were gone. This gives them some between-the-tackles punch to complement Willie Parker, who comes off a broken leg. WR Limas Sweed is a great value late in round 2 and Bruce Davis is a typical Steelers' outside LB with rush skills. OT Tony Hill is a mauler who fits this type of running game."


Unfortunately, none of the four players Weisman mentions in the article are currently on the roster with Mendenhall becoming the latest casualty from an utterly disastrous class.

Overall, between the 2007 and 2012 classes, the Steelers have averaged about a B to B+ grade in the five year period. I wouldn't call that bad drafting so something else has to be in play here, right?

All the concerns have had Steelers fans reverting back to the old "If Bill Cowher were here..." routine when discussing the issues with the draft, but what they fail to remember is that rarely were fans raving about the job Cowher did on draft day.

From 1992 to 2006, Cowher coached the Steelers to six AFC Title Games and two Super Bowls culminating in the fifth of six Lombardi Trophies that currently reside in the Steel City. Drafting guys like Deon Figures ('93), Jamain Stephens ('96) and Troy Edwards ('99) in the first round, it's hard to see how that happened.

Now in fairness to Cowher, he went on a string from 2000 to 2006 where he drafted not just starters, but Pro Bowlers in the first round every year during that span. But there's a distinct difference between the Cowher-era players and the Tomlin-era players.

Simply put, the Tomlin-era have never properly developed or have never been properly developed.

Don't get me wrong, Tomlin has had his share of impact players on the Steelers roster. LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis, and Maurkice Pouncey are all Tomlin players and have all played big roles on this team.

But there's been a lot of high picks that haven't exactly panned out so far. By my count, of the 33 players the Steelers drafted between 2007 and 2010, only eight remain on the roster. That means under one-quarter of the drafted players in those four classes now remain in Pittsburgh.

Even more importantly is that only eight of those same 33 players made significant impacts (starter or significant contributor for MULTIPLE seasons; so no K. Lewis, J. Dwyer) to date.

But it's not like the Steelers are reaching for players by leaps and bounds or are taking guys who weren't productive at the college level. Ziggy Hood, for example, was a consensus All-Big 12 first teamer in his senior year and even an Academic second team All-Big 12er. Hood got good reviews from the guys over at fftoolbox.com and had a fantastic Senior Bowl.

But the praise for Hood was nothing compared to the worshiping the Steelers brass got for their 2008 draft which included Rashard Mendenhall, Limas Sweed and Bruce Davis.

In 2008, College Football News ranked Mendenhall as the top back in the class, ahead of guys like Darren McFaddeen, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, Ray Rice and Chris Johnson. They went on to add, "If he can find the fire and the drive to be special, he'll be a yearly Pro Bowl performer."

The guys at CFN also dubbed that outside of a wrist injury, Sweed "had it all" and that "he'll work his tail off and will be very productive." As we know now, neither of those statements were true. Sweed did not have it all and did anything but work his tail off.

The point is, all of these guys were very good college players who had the potential and, apparently, the drive to play at the next level. So what happened?

To me, this one is on the coaches for failing to get these players where they need to be to succeed at the next level. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure some of this still has to do with the individual players themselves, but too much has gone wrong for it to be a coincidence.

Whether the Steelers haven't pushed their guys hard enough or whether they're simply just not good scheme fits for what the team does, the point is moot. Under Tomlin, Pittsburgh has failed to fully develop draftees into the future stars they're capable of becoming. Even a guy like LaMarr Woodley who has the potential to be an All-Pro continually comes into camp overweight and out of shape and really to no consequence.

Players like Mendenhall, Hood and Cameron Heyward haven't ever lived up to the hype that comes with being a first round pick and currently, I'll be the first to point the finger at the coaches development.

If the Steelers want to keep doing business the "Steeler Way", they're going to have to do a better job of getting their guys ready.


03-28-2013, 11:22 PM
Never understood the love Bruce Davis got. I cringed at that pick as soon as we made it. Sweed seemed like a steal, but it was obvious that he just simply wasn't mentally prepared for the pro game. He lost all of his confidence and just never recovered from that disastrous rookie campaign. Mendenhall had his highs and lows with us, but ultimately it was his attitude that sealed his fate.

03-29-2013, 07:10 AM
Sweed was damaged good. I saw some pictures of him trying to catching a ball. He could not rotate or bend his wrist properly. Pretty much, he was a one handed catcher, and we know how well that works in the NFL.

03-29-2013, 07:22 AM
Anyway, that's an interesting point of view by the author. The thing about Hood and Woodley, you can see all you want to know when they go up against ZBS or stretch plays. It is obvious they want to part of it and will bail at first contact, with both of them knocked outside the numbers with Hood about 5-7 yards down field. There is no development for that. That's what is known as p*ss poor effort.

03-29-2013, 08:39 AM
More people that realize Tomlin is a joke of a coach

03-29-2013, 08:43 AM
More people that realize Tomlin is a joke of a coach

How did I know that you'd show up in this thread??? Fourth reply is a little lower than I expected, but better never than late.

03-29-2013, 09:00 AM
More people that realize Tomlin is a joke of a coach

Oh look, THIS ass clown.

03-29-2013, 12:17 PM
More people that realize Tomlin is a joke of a coach

Stupid statement.

Personally i think it's part developmental part drafting. I think the developmental issue was taken care of with the firing/replacement of several position coaches. From a drafting standpoint I think the scouts have to do a better job or the people making the choices have to select better prospects in some instances.

03-29-2013, 12:58 PM
The way a team plays is based on how they practice and prepare. This team has gotten accustomed to inefficient and ugly football. They are not a sharp, crisp football club. That is on the coach who oversees the process. Why he gets a free pass is beyond me.

03-29-2013, 01:04 PM
Stupid statement.

Personally i think it's part developmental part drafting. I think the developmental issue was taken care of with the firing/replacement of several position coaches. From a drafting standpoint I think the scouts have to do a better job or the people making the choices have to select better prospects in some instances.

You weren't expecting intelligent responses from a sect of the fanbase that we're all embarrassed of, were you?

03-29-2013, 01:05 PM
I made a thread about this before..I love Tomlin but some of is position coach hires Suck...

Fitchner- Ben went outside the organization for QB help...that speaks volumes
Butler- I think Is LB fails outnumber his successes
Kugler- I was never a fan , and Zeirlien was Terrible
Arians-Ben made this dude, not the other way around, plus he hustled Tomlin into hiring pornboy Z.
Geimont- SHOULD AVE BEEN FIRED along time ago..the injuries and lack of strength among some of the olinemen is alarming

03-29-2013, 01:38 PM
Wouldn't development fall more onto the O and D Coordinators and position coaches???

03-29-2013, 01:46 PM
I'm hopeful that the Steelers will nail this years draft. This team is really going to lean on this rookie class to be ready Week 1

03-29-2013, 03:10 PM
I know I have piled on Tomlin a lot since the season ended. Talent and development were never the apex of my issues, it was decision making in the latter stages of games. Losing leads in the 4th quarters, to me, is one of the few things I believe a coach can avoid with good decision making. I know this because I saw a man for 15 years, every game do it better then anyone I ever saw. And he had mediocre QB play for 90% of his 15 years. When you have a 3 time Super Bowl QB, in this day and age, there should be no reason why you can not close out teams like the Titans and Raiders in the 4th. And his consistent neck and neck games, no matter who they play, causes a lot of it. Game plan with a franchise Qb who can pass should be to destroy teams. Not grind it out. If you wanna grind it out, get rid of Ben, sign 5 guys with his money for the offensive line and a stud RB and grind shit out.

As far as development, it is an interesting point. I am not going to go through all the picks in the Tomlin era but Ill go through the 1st rounders.

DeCastro (Injured and too soon)

Good picks, timmons is good, Pouncey is good. Mendenhall good but mentally weak. Dont know about Heyward yet and Decastro was injured.

However, Timmons has had a couple of down years. Pouncey, some say is a little overrated. Mendenhall was mentally unstable. Hood, probably the worst 1st round pick in the Colbert era, which doesnt say much considering he is a starter. And every time i saw heyward play, he made plays, so I have no clue why he doesnt play more.

This shows that there is something off. I do not know exactly what it is, but I feel like they guys should have more impact then they have, even though some are really good. So, I dont know.

03-29-2013, 03:15 PM
It just goes to show how important assistant coaches can be. Our offensive line got significantly worse the second Russ Grimm left the team. Strength and conditioning coaches can have a huge impact on teams. You would think that in the NFL they would have the best of the best, but that's not always the case. Sometimes they hold onto a coach for a long time, and he doesn't embrace new techniques or technologies that can take an athlete to another level. Look what happened at Penn State this year. They have been a big time program for years, with a supposedly great strength and conditioning program. Bill O'Brien brings in a young, energetic coach and transforms players. You could literally see that every player on the field looked a step quicker and played a lot stronger. This stuff matters at the highest levels, and there is no excuse for not having the absolute best people on the planet with the money that is there to be made in pro football.