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Old 05-13-2008, 07:54 PM   #1
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Default Analyzing the 08 Draft

Susceptible to speculation or worthy of a standing ovation? Checkmark both when critiquing Pittsburgh’s Genesis on an ’08 season that looks to light the Bunsen under the Offense’s tail for the first time since head coach Mike Tomlin took the flaming torch from the highly-esteemed Coach Cowher. Coming into this draft, after doing the seasonal research on the mocks and message board debates world (wide-web) wide, it was a well-known fact that Offensive and Defensive Linemen were the top-needs for this organization coming into late-April. I even went to the extent of personally emailing a well-known writer for cbs.sportsline.com and called him out for drawing up a Mock Draft in which he foresaw Pittsburgh selecting Oregon Running Back Jonathan Stewart at Pick #23. Within seventy-two hours I’m scratching my head at how our organization could make such an eerily similar pick. Did our “Mr. Nobody,” Undrafted Free-Agent from North Carolina not lead all Running Back’s in rushing yards before going down with a broken leg against St. Louis late in the season last year? Did Big Ben’s exceptional blitz-escapability not fall victim to a nearly league-high 47 sacks in ’07-’08, after registering only one less the year before? Keep in mind that these numbers are being drawn up with All-Perennial Pro Bowler Alan Faneca in the picture as well.

So who was this man worthy of being the first rookie inducted into the franchise this year, if not the obvious pass-protector? If you came into this draft with not a smidget of information on who Rashard Mendenhall was, or what he’d bring to the table, you have been neglected some of the sweet glories football has to offer. Another “little guy” at 5’10, he stands at a nice 225lbs. that should be perfectly adequate to transition into the big leagues. At a closer look, you’ll notice that he has been blessed with a change-of-direction that most backs in the NFL are performing without. Throw on a 4.45 40-time, recognize how developed his vision is, and take into account that he has an unnatural motor that doesn’t allow his legs to stop moving and we’ve developed a prospect that shouldn’t have even made it to the twenty-third pick. Only two backs went before him, and one of the teams (my own Hometown Charlotte Panthers) have most definitely heard some questioning as to why they didn’t select Mendenhall instead. He’s been dubbed as having great hands out of the backfield, and this only opens up what our possibilities can look like in third-down scenarios. Willie Parker said in an interview close to a month ago that more help in the backfield would be great news to him, acknowledging that it could help lengthen his career and act as an insurance policy to know that his body wouldn’t have to take any more of a beating that it had to. Well my friend, thank your lucky stars that we’ve landed one heck of an insurance policy, and this one comes without the corny commercials.

While there is some desire to argue the lack of progress in revamping our lines to start off the draft, the caliber of players we selected is not to be doubted in this year’s crop of fresh produce. We’re looking at arguably the best Running back after the highly-acclaimed McFadden, the top-rated Receiver on nearly every board I came across, and a Quarterback who was a Heisman candidate before falling hard to a knee injury. Go ahead and question what you will on these picks ladies and gentlemen, just don’t expect to find any shortcomings on the talent side of the ball. Another aspect that plays a positive roll for both organization and fans alike is that we’re looking at immediate impact with some of these picks. Limas Sweed gives us the slot receiver we’ve been praying for since Randle El was signed to play for Washington. A stellar season last year from Franchise QB Big Ben must have opened the staff’s eyes and ears a little more intently this time around, as not only did he earn himself one of the most brilliant paychecks to be handed out, but also a simple off-season request for a tall wideout lands him one who was supposed to be off the draft-boards the immediate pick after Mendenhall. I can already see Vince Young cursing his staff for not bringing Sweed along for his Pro Career after finding his old college teammate has what it takes to be a consistent threat at the next level.

Now Round #3 is where things got a little more offbeat. When the Draft Tracker rolling along the bottom of our screen to tell us that The ‘Burgh has finally attacked one of it’s needs at linemen, it was a long-awaited weight that had been lifted off of our shoulders. Then Keith Butler breaks the news that we’ll be converting DE Bruce Davis into Linebacker….an Outer Linebacker at that. After taking two OLBs in rounds one and two last year, this pick makes absolutely no sense to me. Now, I’ll re-evaluate that thought if and when I discover that the staff is planning on making the most of Timmon’s talents and transferring him over to the Inside backer position. This kid is a rover, and rovers thrive when given the ability to roam around freely in a zone. Do I really need to mention the fact that our own Dick Lebeau didn’t master the Zone-Blitz, he invented it people. I want you to sit back in your arm-chair for a moment and just dream up what L.T. could do for this organization as a rover-type ILB. It’s nasty, it’s mean, and it’s everything offenses want to try and avoid on Sundays. This would give Pittsburgh the opportunity to start Harrison, Timmons, Farrior, and Woodley at the respective linebacker positions. With this core I’d believe in the pick much more soundly, but if Woodley is the only starter of the group for the near future I would have personally liked to see us jump on another need of greater importance. Say, I don’t know….a lineman!!!

Round #4, who’d have known?? With the 130th overall pick the Pittsburgh Steelers addressed the most dire need of the 2008 NFL Draft. Tony Hills, OT, Texas. Two things jump out at me right off the bat about this young man. First off, he played for a major school in a major division, meaning he lined up and faced some real tests throughout his college career. In ’04 and ’05 Hill appeared in a total of 18 games, and at each season’s close the Texas Longhorn’s Offensive Line was credited to mashing out for their backs to achieve the 2nd most rushing yards in the NCAA both seasons. Good news. The second thing that strikes me as an upside is his size. At 6’5 – 6’6 and 305 pounds, he is a big, durable guy who is also in shape. Take a look at his build in his highlight video (which can be found at the bottom of this page) and tell me he doesn’t look like a linebacker in the shot where he’s found out of pads. Looks like a mauler with very nice agility, giving him the ability to stay down in the trenches for as long as he’s asked. Out of shape linemen have been around the league for years, and will remain a painstaking issue for trainers for years to come. Sorry Cleveland, but this ain’t one of them.

I think one aspect of Steeler Football that fans have come to love so much over the years is how effectively we’ve been able to both capitalize on, and perform the beloved “trick play”. From Stewart, to Randle El, to Ward, we’ve had ourselves a mighty dose of trick plays that have made their way to Monday morning water cooler chats worldwide. With two of those three individuals either within another organization or retired, Pittsburgh has selected a premier athlete who has every chance to work into our good old trick play schemes once again. I can guarantee there were countless naysayers who questioned what good if any selecting a Quarterback in this round would prove. Well folks, Charlie Batch is quite a few leap-years from being fresh meat, and with Jared Zabransky and Mike Potts (say hello to the practice squad) as the only other QBs on the roster, this pick is a steal in the 5th round. We’re talking about a guy who was legitimate Heisman talk before he went down with a torn ACL in a Week 6 matchup vs. Arizona. He stood at a 20:4 Touchdown to Interception ratio at that point, with nearly 600 rushing yards to match. I’ve been wrong before, but I foresee a solid asset to this team, and a longtime backup at Ben’s established position.

Mike Humpall, LB, Iowa and Ryan Mundy, S, West Virginia closed out the ‘08 draft for Pittsburgh, and both will have to put up a heck of a fight to make the 53-man roster. Look for the last two rounds to be practice squad material, which isn’t all-bad when you consider the first four rounds all have a legitimate shot of becoming a starter for this team within the next few years. QB Dennis Dixon could be our not-so-treacherous of a scenario if Big Ben were to go down and miss a couple of weeks from injury. It may not have been the textbook draft, but it was one in which we stockpiled the roster with the best talent available. And that my friends, is reason to celebrate.



2008 Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Pick Highlights:

Rashard Mendenhall - http://youtube.com/watch?v=O7OiYXlBEZU

Limas Sweed – http://youtube.com/watch?v=FuztJyZAlYA&feature=related

Bruce Davis – http://youtube.com/watch?v=Nbl03WpCpXk

Tony Hills -
http://www.nfldraft.rivals.com/video...ge&vidid=33457

Dennis Dixon – http://youtube.com/watch?v=-oBOZq9uHR0&feature=related


--Miles Berkland
April 29, 2008
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Old 05-13-2008, 09:00 PM   #2
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Default Re: Analyzing the 08 Draft

Nice read. 3rd round still a little curious for me. *shrug*
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Old 05-14-2008, 12:48 AM   #3
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Default Re: Analyzing the 08 Draft

IMO, hills will be on and off the IR his whole career.
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Old 05-14-2008, 03:28 AM   #4
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Default Re: Analyzing the 08 Draft

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Originally Posted by GBMelBlount View Post
Nice read. 3rd round still a little curious for me. *shrug*
They must have seen alot in Davis moving him to outside linebacker hopefully they will know what they are doing.
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Old 05-14-2008, 06:45 AM   #5
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Default Re: Analyzing the 08 Draft

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They must have seen alot in Davis moving him to outside linebacker hopefully they will know what they are doing.
I think you're right. I just like complaining about our O-line. Truth is I was pretty happy about this years draft. And after some of the ideas I've read on SF about our line., I am actually excited. Primarily that our line has the POTENTIAL to be solid enough for the Steelers to do some serious damage again this year. We have what we have so I am choosing to believe....
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Old 05-14-2008, 09:10 AM   #6
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Default Re: Analyzing the 08 Draft

Great read, well done.

This draft will be successful if both RushHard and Sweed pay off. Then if Davis can contribute on STs and as a passrusher immediately that would be great. If Dixon is willing and capable to be Slash V2.0, we are set at QB for the next 8 years. If Hills becomes a starter next year then this would be an incredible draft. Humpal and Mundy making the team as STers would be great.

With the talent these guys have, if even three of these guys pay off this draft will be a huge success.

That's alot of 'ifs', but there always is with the draft. And that's not mentioning the UDFAs, which I like a couple of them too.
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Old 05-14-2008, 09:45 AM   #7
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Default Re: Analyzing the 08 Draft

We have good reasons to be hopeful.

And a little luck never hurts.
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Old 05-14-2008, 09:55 AM   #8
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Default Re: Analyzing the 08 Draft

we should not have got dixon
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Old 05-14-2008, 10:53 AM   #9
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Default Re: Analyzing the 08 Draft

I love watching the Sweed video............
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Old 05-14-2008, 11:16 AM   #10
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Default Re: Analyzing the 08 Draft

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we should not have got dixon
Any facts or figures or analysis to back up your statement or are you just a Duck Hater?
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