FSU LB appears on Steelers' draft radar
By John Harris
Saturday, March 31, 2007
So much for rumors and innuendo.
The Steelers will leave the speculation and guesswork of next month's NFL Draft to prying media members and the team's vast legion of fans. The Steelers deal in facts, and the facts tell them Florida State linebacker Lawrence Timmons is a strong candidate to be taken with their first-round pick (No. 15 overall).
How much do the Steelers think of Timmons? Count the ways:
? Steelers coaches, scouts and front-office staff observed Timmons at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
? Coach Mike Tomlin and director of football operations Kevin Colbert observed Timmons at Florida State's Pro Day on March 15.
? Several general managers were present when Timmons worked out two weeks ago, but Tomlin was the only head coach to attend, and Tomlin and Colbert were the only head coach/GM tag-team there.
? Oh, and did we mention that Timmons is expected to visit Pittsburgh to meet with team officials one final time prior to the April 28-29 draft?
Tomlin's presence at Florida State's Pro Day less than a month after the Combine is significant.
Tomlin could have simply gone back and watched more of Timmons on game tape or viewed his Combine performance until he needed a case of Visine, but he saw something that piqued his interest and made him want to see Timmons again in person.
Drew Rosenhaus, agent to the stars who represents Timmons, saw the same thing.
"The draft is very difficult to project. It's just too early to place Lawrence with a team. But it's always a good sign when the general manager and the head coach come and watch a player work out. It's exciting for us to see the Steelers' organization express that kind of interest in Lawrence," Rosenhaus said.
So, is the Steelers' interest in Timmons genuine, a smokescreen, or pure coincidence?
After all, the Steelers evaluate all of the top draft-eligible players thoroughly. They have to check out everybody, because you never know when a player you didn't expect to be available might fall into your lap.
However, for high-ranking members of the Steelers to schedule at least three visits with Timmons after the season -- not to mention also scouting his college games -- says a lot about Timmons as a player, and even more about the Steelers' having a legitimate interest in drafting him.
Last season, Timmons recorded 79 tackles (including 18 tackles for a loss), five sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery and two blocked kicks. He's a big hitter with the versatility to play the run, pressure the quarterback and drop into coverage.
He's comfortable playing in the 3-4 or 4-3 formation, which, coincidentally, is what the Steelers are expected to play under Tomlin.
Timmons told reporters attending the Combine that he played the 3-4 about 25 percent of the time at Florida State. He prefers the 3-4 because he can rush the quarterback from the end position.
Timmons, who left school with a year of eligibility remaining, would fill an eventual need at outside linebacker for the Steelers, who released Joey Porter and replaced him with James Harrison, who turns 29 in May.
Clark Haggans, the other starting outside linebacker, is 30.
Timmons turns 21 in May.
"Leaving early as a junior, most people still think you're a kid," Timmons said. "I just want to let them know I'm professional, and I can do anything and everything they want me to."
Tomlin seems convinced. Even after Timmons posted pedestrian times of 4.63 and 4.71 in the 40 and appeared winded between drills at Florida State's Pro Day, Tomlin came to Timmons' defense.
"The (game) tape is his walking-and-talking resume," Tomlin told the Tallahassee Democrat. "Sometimes people get enamored with workouts and things of that nature. The No. 1 thing is the tape. And his tape is his biggest ally."
No idle chatter, this.