Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Foote on the way out

Apparently, Larry Foote is on the verge of being released by the team. According to Foote, the choice is his to leave.

Either way, we're losing a solid football player. That being said though, Lawrence Timmons is a beast. From the way he played last season, Timmons is a one-man wrecking crew and he's only going to get better. Foote was being slowly phased out of the starting lineup anyways.

On one hand, this works for the Steelers because it will free up some cap room. Apparently they couldn't get a trade worked out to move him to a team where he could start. I'm a little surprised Detroit wasn't interested, since they need players everywhere and Foote is a Michigan guy.

If he leaves, he will be missed, but I'm not very concerned about the overall state of the linebacking unit. Donovan Woods will be back from injury and should be a capable backup to Timmons. Timmons needed to start anyways. He was too good not to have on the field every play.

Marty Brodeur and the Choke of the Century

Marty Brodeur.

There's a lot of history here. But we're not a Penguins blog, so we're not going to go into it.

Petr Nedved.

Gonch was playing on that Caps team in 96.

Go Pens!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Gettin' Ziggy With It: 2009 Draft Picks

The Steelers did a fantastic job over the last two days of addressing their needs in the draft. They may not have landed any "big name" players, but everyone the picked has a great chance of being a solid contributor in the NFL.

If one thing is for sure, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert are on the same page when it comes to the draft. Over their 3 drafts, they have consistently drafted for depth. They have yet to pick a player who cracked the starting lineup for more than one game during their rookie year, but the depth they have built through the draft has manifested itself in great second year players like Pro Bowlers in the making LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons. From last years draft, Rashard Mendenhall had a shortened season because of injury, and Limas Sweed saw some time as the #4 receiver. All that being said, the Steelers now have one of the deepest linebacking units in the league and possibly the most dynamic rushing duo in James Harrison and Woodley. Tomlin and Colbert know what they are doing in the draft, and even if these guys don't have an immediate impact, they will all be role players in the future.

First Round
Evander "Ziggy" Hood
DT - Missouri

This was a fantastic pick based on who was left on the board and what the Steelers needed. Everyone on the d-line depth chart is over 30, and Ziggy gives them youth and depth at a position where they needed both. He will be a DE in the 3-4 alignment and will likely see time in the D-line rotation this year. In the long term, he may be the heir apparent to 33-year old Aaron Smith.

Projection: makes team but does not become a consistent starter unless there is an injury along the D-line.

Second Round

The Steelers made a good move here in trading with Denver. The Broncos moved up to select a player the Steelers had no interest in and the Steelers got two 3rd round picks out of the deal. Solid move by the Steelers, and one has to question the decision-making of the Broncos front office on this one.

Prediction: Denver finishes 3rd in the West next year.

Third Round

Kraig Urbik
G/T - Wisconsin

This dude is huge. At a little over 6'5" 330, Urbik played both guard and tackle at Wisconsin. The Steelers like him as a guard but may give him the opportunity to play multiple positions along the line. He is a mauler and will give Stapleton a run for his money at guard.

Projection: makes team as back-up.

Mike Wallace
WR/KR - Mississippi

In an interview during the draft, Tomlin described Wallace as "visibly fast." Wallace ran a 4.3 40-yard dash and has decent size at 6'0". The Steelers are hoping he can compete with Limas Sweed as the #3 receiver and he will be back there to take the first kickoff of the season.

Projection: makes lineup and will alternate time with Limas Sweed as #3 receiver. Will also be the Kick Returner.

Keenan Lewis
CB - Oregon State

Lewis, a high school teammate of Wallace, is already drawing comparisons to Ike Taylor. At 6'1", Lewis is taller than the recently departed Bryant McFadden. Like Ike, he has questionable hands, but his size and strength give him the potential to develop into another shut-down corner. I don't think he'll press Willie Gay for playing time this year, but he could be an impact player in the secondary down the road.

Projection: Makes team as #4 cornerback behind Taylor, Gay, and Townsend. Will see time in nickel packages.

Fourth Round

This pick was traded to Denver with the 2nd rounder for their two third round picks.

Fifth Round

Joe Burnett

Burnett had 5 kick/punt returns for scores and may be able to crack the lineup in that regard. He lacks some size and has decent speed. The Steelers brought him in for a look in the offseason (see the Draft Prospects drop-down on the sidebar) so they must have liked what they saw. With the selection of Mike Wallace, I don't see Burnett as cracking the lineup, unless Wallace really flops as a kick returner.

Projection: Practice squad.

Frank "The Tank" Summers

The definition of a bruising back. At 5'9" 242, he is built in the mold of Jerome Bettis. It was sad to see Gary Russell go, but Summers brings a bit more size and grindability to the table. He just flat out runs people over. The coaching staff loved him and he might be the short-yardage back of the future. Summers can also play fullback and he may develop into a Le'Ron McClain-style player. I certainly remember sitting through the three Baltimore games last year wishing we had someone like McClain who was a bruiser with a motor. Now we do.

Projection: Borderline. I don't see the Steelers keeping 5 running backs on the roster. Parker, Mendenhall, and Moore are safe, which likely means the Steelers will decide between Summers and Carey Davis for the last spot. I would prefer Summers to Davis.

Sixth Round

Ra'Shon Harris
DT - Oregon

Has solid size (6'4" 303) to become a force along the defensive front. He was another player the Steelers brought in for a look over the past offseason. His inconsistency at Oregon in his one year as a starter doesn't project him to crack the lineup this year, but he gives the Steelers more young depth along the defensive front. Let's not forget that Brett Keisel was a 7th round pick, so the Steelers are good at finding eventual starters deep in the draft.

Projection: Practice Squad

Seventh Round

A.Q. Shipley
C - Penn State

I love this pick. If there is a pick to get excited about in the later rounds, it might be this one. In addition to being a local boy from Moon, Shipley is a Rimmington-award winning center from Penn State who showed that despite his supposed "physical shortcomings" he can mix it up with the best of them. He had a fantastic performance in a battle with the USC defensive front in the Rose Bowl, and also showed that he could hold his own throughout the Big 10 season. Shipley, a high school wrestler, is an absolute mauler up front and is a workhorse in the weight room. He is a great team player and may crack the roster since the Steelers lack any real depth at center.

Projection: Practice Squad, but he comes close to the roster because of lack of O-line depth.

David Johnson
TE/FB - Arkansas State

Johnson is in the mold of Sean McHugh and will give the Steelers a little more depth at the "H-back" position. McHugh did a great job as a blocking back last season and it would be nice to have a true fullback for goal line situations. With this pick, it seems as though Carey Davis' time with the Steelers might be limited, but you never know, Davis could play his way onto the roster this year. If Johnson is going to make the team, he'll probably have to do it on special teams, but he could be a practice squad player for a year or two before finally breaking in.

Projection: Practice Squad.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

NFL Draft Day

For those who might be new to the NFL world, Draft day isn't a big deal. For those who follow the NFL religiously, it's like Christmas. No matter who your team is, today is the day when you once again start believing that either a) your team has found the missing pieces it needs to make a run or b) your management is so inept your team is bound to wallow in misery until the GM and entire staff are fired.

Granted, no one has won a Super Bowl on Draft Day, but success can be lost due to bad decisions. Trades will happen. Players will be moved. Look for Mark Sanchez to be the center of some early action. Maybe Seattle picks him and holds on. Maybe Seattle picks him then trades him to Cleveland for Brady Quinn. Maybe Cleveland picks him. Maybe the Jets try to make a move up for him. While many people have been saying that this is a "bad draft" in terms of star players, I feel like this is also a deep draft in terms of quality talent. There might not be the potential starpower of the Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger year, but there will be quality players that could become starters this year available well into the second round. In my opinion, there are about 40 players that could be taken in the first round.

The Detroit Lions signed Matthew Stafford to a 6-year deal last night, which means he will be the #1 overall pick in the draft. This is a great move for Detroit and shows that the new management has their heads on straight and is looking in the right direction. Now they just need to fill in the pieces around him.

ESPN will have draft coverage on all day.

The actual draft starts at 4pm.

If you don't have cable, NFL.com will have streaming coverage.

The Pens play in Filthadelphia today at 3pm with a chance to close out the series.

Don't expect any draft updates from us while the Pens game is on.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ian's 2009 Mock Draft v2.0

On the eve of draft day, nothing seems to be certain any more. Mock drafts usually don't include trades, because they are essentially impossible to predict. That being said, it's almost pointless to do a mock draft without trades because trades will happen. Therefore, for my second, and final, mock draft of this year, I will stick it all out on the line and attempt to predict some first-round trades as well.

Matthew Stafford (QB-Georgia)
With the new brass running the show, they will feel the pressure to prove that they are going to be running a different show than the one that produced an 0-16 season. While Curry may seem to be the "safest" pick in the draft (and is a slightly cheaper option), I can't see the new administration passing on a potential franchise quarterback (particularly in a draft this shallow in quarterback depth).

Edit: I was right. As I was typing this post, the Lions signed Stafford to a 6-year deal.

Jason Smith (OT-Baylor)
St. Louis may give some thought to Curry and Crabtree, but in the end the decision will be to protect Marc Bulger's blindside. They let Orlando Pace go this offseason, and don't have a replacement for him on the roster. This serves as a good sign that they intend on picking an offensive tackle.

Eugene Monroe (OT-Virginia)
The surprise pick of the draft so far. Everyone thinks the Chiefs will pick Curry, but I'll believe it when I see it. Yes, they need help at linebacker, but they also went out and signed Zack Thomas and Mike Vrabel. They are switching to a 3-4 and Curry's best fit there would be at Inside Linebacker, the least valued position in a 3-4. Scott Pioli makes a move to protect his new franchise passer with a rebuilt Offensive Line, allowing Monroe to bookend Brendan Albert, a first round selection last year and another Virginia grad.

Mark Sanchez (QB-USC)
Seattle will be hearing trade offers for this pick all night as people will be looking to move ahead of Cleveland to take Sanchez. In the end, Seattle drafts Sanchez, but don't be surprised if they trade him to someone for players and picks at a later point in the draft.

Aaron Curry (LB-Wake Forest)
Curry is a huge bargain at this point, as he has gotten consideration from each of the top 4 teams. Cleveland likes Sanchez and Crabtree, but their inability to move Braylon Edwards forces them to address the other side of the ball. Yes, they also run a 3-4, but their linebacking unit is downright dreadful, and Curry may be able to fill in at OLB for the time being.

BJ Raji (DT-Boston College)
Cincinnati needs help at every position. They give a serious look at Beanie Wells here, but opt for defense to improve their absolutely dreadful run defense. Raji fills a big hole and will be a much-needed playmaker. They will receive trade offers from people looking to move ahead of Oakland to take Crabtree, but won't pull the trigger.

Michael Crabtree (WR-Oakland)
Tom Cable wants to go O-line but they also need receivers. They made a few moves on the O-line this offseason and will likely take someone to fill in there at the top of the second round. But for now, Crabtree is too good to pass up. Paired with JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden, the Raiders might actually field a real football team for the first time in ages.

Andre Smith (OT-Alabama)
With all of the premier players gone, they won't be hearing a lot in terms of trade offers at this point. They beef up their offensive line with Smith, who has the strength and skill to be an elite player, despite his miserable offseason. If David Garrard is their franchise quarterback, they need to find some way to protect him, and this is a great start.

Tyson Jackson (DE-LSU)
Green Bay gives Orakpo and Everette Brown serious looks as potential 3-4 OLBs, but they opt for rising talent Tyson Jackson. Green Bay doesn't have anyone on their roster right now who can naturally play DE in a 3-4, so they snatch up the best player available at the position.

Brian Orakpo (DE-Texas)
While Orakpo could go as high as #3 to Kansas City, other issues take precedence for teams higher on the board and San Francisco is quick to snatch up a sturdy defensive end. If things fall according to my draft, San Fran will be deciding between Michael Oher, Everette Brown, and Orakpo.

Everette Brown (DE-Florida State)
Another team in need of pass-rushing help. Buffalo will get offers from people looking to move up to take Brown, or get ahead of Denver to take Josh Freeman, but they hold onto their pick and take someone who can be an instant force off the edge.

Josh Freeman (QB-Kansas State)
Josh McDaniels doesn't want to risk Washington or the Jets having a shot at Freeman (not to mention other teams that could trade up) so they snatch him off the board at #12. Is this a little high for the gunslinger? Possibly, but if he develops into a Ben Roethlisberger-type quarterback (as many have said he could) then Denver won't regret the pick.

(from Washington)
Rey Maualuga (LB-USC)
In the first trade of the draft, San Diego trades up with Washington in order to take Rey Maualuga from USC before the Texans get a shot at him. Houston is a team that could use some help in the middle of their defense, but San Diego wants it more and makes the move to get the USC stud first.

Malcolm Jenkins (CB-Ohio State)
With the San Diego trade, the wheeling and dealing commences, but New Orleans holds on to their pick to give themselves an upgrade in a secondary that got absolutely torched last season. Jenkins, who some think may be too lanky for corner, could also help out at safety where the Saints need help as well. This is an ideal situation for them and if Jenkins falls out of the top 10, the Saints may even look to move up a few spots to grab him.

(From Houston)
Aaron Maybin (DE-Penn State)
Houston pulls the trigger on a trade and the Patriots are able to move up and get the type of player who could be a devastating force for years to come in a Bill Belicheat defense. Maybin has the raw skill to be dominant, but lacks the experience to be a Top 10 pick. Look for people to be chomping at the bit to move up to take him though.

(from San Diego)
Michael Oher (OT-Ole Miss)
They could have taken Oher earlier, but are able to sucker the Chargers into trading and get a later round pick out of the deal. They take an Offensive Tackle to provide some help for Campbell and Portis. Their offensive line got banged up towards the end of last year, and it showed as Campbell's numbers dropped off. Everyone likes to blame the QB for the issues with the offense, but when multiple offensive linemen go down with injury, it's not always the QB's fault, because the running game suffered too. Washington may look defense, and I wouldn't be surprised if they took one of the USC linebackers.

(from New York Jets)
Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR-Maryland)
With the Jets, a team in need of a WR on the clock, the Giants make a move to trade up and pick possibly the most gamebreaking receiver in the draft. DHB has size, strength, and hands that will make him an excellent replacement for No-Catch-ico.

Brian Cushing (LB-USC)
The Broncos take Freeman with their first pick and are now free to turn an eye towards the ailing defense. They consider taking a running back, but their offseason acquisitions at RB make it a more sensible move to draft a defender, particularly a linebacker.

(from Tampa Bay)
Jeramy Maclin (WR-Missouri)

This is way too far for Maclin to fall, but with the needs that other teams have, he may get passed over (or he could go as high as #7 to Oakland or #8 to Jacksonville). But Minnesota is in need of some depth at WR so I could see them making a move up to take Maclin if he falls.

Eben Britton (OT-Arizona)
Detroit picked up their franchise passer with the #1 overall pick and now they need to protect him so he doesn't get injured. Smart move here is to go either O-line or D-line. I'm banking on them going O-line as they have another pick at #33 when there should still be some solid defensive players available.

Chris "Beanie" Wells (RB-Ohio State)
Knowshon Moreno from Georgia might be a better fit for Philly's offense, but Wells has Top 10 talent, and could very well go to someone like Cincy or Cleveland in the Top 10. He drops because of the relative short-term durability of running backs these days and Philly gets a steal at #21.

Peria Jerry (DT-Ole Miss)
Tampa could have snagged Jerry a few picks earlier, but like Washington did earlier in the day, they are able to take the player they wanted with a later pick and acquire an extra pick in a middle round. Jerry will be an instant help to the Bucs front 4 and take pressure off of Gaines Adams on the end.

Percy Harvin (WR-Florida)
Andre Johnson is the #1 receiver in Houston, no question. However, with that being said, a speedster like Harvin could find his nitch in a place like Houston where he will have time to grow and develop into a solid compliment to Johnson.

Clay Matthews (LB-USC)
The Falcons lost two of their starting linebackers from last season and only added one, which means they are in the market for another linebacker. Matthews is the third USC linebacker taken, and will be able to step in and play immediately for Atlanta.

Robert Ayers (DE/OLB-Tennessee)
Bill Parcells and his 3-4 defense love converted Defensive Ends to play OLB. Joey Porter can't last forever and Ayers could see some playing time this season and be the long-term replacement once Porter decides to hang it up. The Dolphins are thrilled to have Ayers fall all the way to them, and their defense, which was solid last year, takes another step forward.

Vontae Davis (CB-Illinois)
The Ravens give serious consideration to Brandon Pettigrew with this pick, but Davis, once valued as a Top 15 pick, is too much of a value at a need position for them to pass up. The Ravens cut Rolle and McAllister this past offseason, and even though they came to terms with a few DB's, there is still a hole there that a playmaker like Davis could fill.

Evander "Ziggy" Hood (DT-Missouri)
The Colts might like a receiver here to replace Marvin Harrison, but they NEED to get bigger and stronger at defensive tackle. Ziggy Hood is the best DT prospect left on the board, and it is doubtful that Ron Brace (BC) will make it to them in the second round, so the Colts pick up a DT here and wait until Round 2 for a Wide Receiver.

Brandon Pettigrew (TE-Oklahoma St)
Things couldn't work out more perfect for Buffalo. They get a long-term tight end that can run-block and is solid running routes over the middle. With TO only signed to one year, he and Pettigrew won't have the opportunity to feud the way TO and Witten did. With James Hardy also on the team, this could turn into a formidable receiving unit for Buffalo. Don't be surprised if they look for a running back at some point in the draft since Marshawn Lynch is suspended for 3 games.

(from New York Giants)
Hakeem Nicks (WR-North Carolina)
Nicks is a big target with great hands and he will be an immediate help to the passing game, if there is a Quarterback to run it next year. The Jets could be involved in a trade to try and pry Sanchez away from Seattle, so keep an eye on that. Nicks will be a solid replacement for Laverneus Coles and will be a good long-term option in the Big Apple.

Darius Butler (CB-Connecticut)
Tennessee doesn't really have any holes to speak of (besides at WR) but they have demonstrated in the past that they rarely take WR's in the first round. Therefore, they pick up Darius Butler to play in the secondary alongside Cortland Finnegan to form one of the better young secondaries in the league.

Knowshon Moreno (RB-Georgia)
While there is a talented slew of running backs out there this year, none of them were overly impressive in the offseason, which is a cause for them to drop in the draft. A lot of good players are on the board for Arizona to take, but they opt for Moreno and give Edgerrin James his ticket out of town.

Alex Mack (C-California)
Mack exemplifies everything the Steelers love in a player and a person. He is versatile (can play any position on the line) and a humanitarian. He is a natural leader and will bring intensity and cohesiveness to an offensive line that only started clicking late last season. Mack would have a year to learn as Justin Hartwig plays out the last year of his contract, then be able to step in at either center or guard for the Steelers. They may also look at CBs and WRs here, though I doubt they take someone who will be a #3 WR in the first round of the draft.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Go Pens!

We realize that, in this week leading up to the draft we could be monitoring every rumor site and reposting everything that we read here. But it's all just speculation. And there's more important things going on in Pittsburgh sports this week. Namely, the Pens laying a smack-down on the Flyers.

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Nothing major has really happened around the NFL that has warranted a post. There have been rumors of a Braylon Edwards to the Giants deal, and Anquan Boldin's name has been tossed around in a few circles, but no real major movement yet. Detroit is supposedly in negotiations with their #1 pick. But we likely won't know that until Friday evening. Also, don't expect many trades to happen between now and draft day. Teams will likely listen to a lot of offers between now and then, but won't really be ready to pull the trigger on them until they are on the clock.

As for what the Steelers will do, it's pretty certain they will focus on one of three areas with their first pick: Offensive Line, Defensive Line, or Cornerback. With Bryant McFadden heading to Pittsburgh West, the need is there for a cornerback, particularly to add depth. However, if a player of Alex Mack's caliber is still available, I think it's hard to pass on him. The Steelers will also be looking at 3-4 defensive ends to replace the aging Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel.

Will the Steelers trade? It's a very good possibility. Since Kevin Colbert has come around the Steelers have traded up to get Troy Polamalu and Santonio Holmes as well as trading down the year they selected Casey Hampton. That's two Pro Bowl players and a Super Bowl MVP that the Steelers have obtained via first round trades. If one thing is certain, it's that the Steelers scouting department can be trusted.

Trust Colbert.

...and Let's Go Pens!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cutting and Signing

In some good news this week, the Steelers signed Charlie Batch to a 1-year contract. This gives us a solid security blanket with a veteran backup behind Ben. This deal was just waiting to get done until Leftwich made up his mind. Batch wasn't even trying out for other teams.

The Steelers announced that they cut Gary Russell yesterday.

I'm not really sure how to feel about this move. I guess, since Mendenhall is going to be healthy, we couldn't keep 5 running backs on the roster. However, I would have much rather have seen them cut Carey Davis than Gary Russell. Russell, or "The Bulldozer" as we liked to call him around here, was a solid short-yardage back who ran strong and with good leverage. The only reason I can see for cutting him as that they needed to open up a roster spot for Charlie Batch. It's sad to see Gary go, he was a good performer in the offense, scored a much-needed touchdown in the Super Bowl, and played well on special teams. However, since Arians and his pass-happy offense don't like to run the ball for some reason (particularly with a blocking back)...well, I won't get started there. Hopefully Gary will be back, or Mendenhall will develop big-time, because we need someone who can pound it out in short yardage.

Picture of the Year: Round 2 Matchup 5

Today's poll features a fan favorite against one of the more memorable games from last season. Hines Ward breaking Keith Rivers' jaw in the Bengals game matches up with Jeff Reed's game-winning field goal against San Diego in the only 11-10 game in NFL history.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Only Four Left

The Steelers are permitted to host 30 prospects before the draft next weekend. Four more came through the South Side facility today, bringing their total to 26. If you're interested in the prior visitors, see the drop-down list on the sidebar.

Travis Shelton (WR-Temple)

NFLHouse Position Rank: n/a

Ian's Take: Another prospect that isn't on prospect boards comes through the Steelers doors. He will make the team under one condition and one condition only: that we don't draft someone who is a capable kick returner. Shelton led the nation in kick return yards last season, averaging over 30 per return. He rarely saw time on offense, logging only 20 receptions and 230 receiving yards all season. However, he obviously has some kick return ability, and may be given a look in the preseason as an undrafted free agent if the Steelers like what they saw today.

Projected Round: 6th-undrafted

Spence Adkins (LB-The U)

NFLHouse Position Rank: n/a

Ian's Take: Not really sure what the Steelers are looking for here. In fact, I'm kinda surprised they are looking at linebackers at all. At least on a short-term basis, I think our depth at linebacker is pretty solid. Unless they are planning on moving Larry Foote, they really don't need any more depth at linebacker. But then they would be looking for an ILB. This one confuses me a little. Adkins didn't really do anything outstanding at Miami that would make him seem NFL-caliber, but I guess we'll see.

Projected Round: 6th-undrafted

Nate Davis (QB-Ball State)

NFL.com Player Preview

NFLHouse Position Rank: 4th

Ian's Take: Once again, this one makes very little sense to me. Davis has potential as a solid NFL quarterback, but with Dennis Dixon on the roster and the heir apparent as the backup to Ben, I don't really see why drafting a Quarterback (particularly one of the top 5 in the draft) will do us much good. Maybe they are thinking about using him in a Randle El type role, but he isn't necessarily quick (he ran one of the slowest 40s at the combine for QBs). I will be surprised if the Steelers take him.

Projected Round: 2nd-4th

Andy Levitre (G-Oregon State)

NFL.com Player Preview

NFLHouse Position Rank: 3rd

Ian's Take: At 6'3" 305, Levitre leaves little to be desired out of a guard prospect. Levitre has played at both guard and tackle at Oregon State, though projects more as a guard than a tackle. Since he is coming out of a passing offense in the Pac-10, some have wondered about his run-blocking ability, but the success of Jaquiz Rodgers for the Beavers last season should give you some indication. He has mixed it up with some of the better defensive prospects in this draft and had success. He might go in the first day, but if he doesn't, expect to hear his name called early on the second day. If he falls too far down the board, he could be a steal in the later 4th round.

Projected Round: 2nd-4th

I'm retiring, you see, that means I'm not working any more

John Madden has retired from broadcasting.


Conspiracy Theory #1:

John never recovered from Franco Harris breaking his fragile heart and can't bear to live in a world where the Steelers have more Super Bowls than everyone else.

Conspiracy Theory #2:

Brett Favre retired this year.

So did John Madden.

Enough said.

I suppose we are all going to miss the excellent football commentary such as,

"Generally, the team that scores the most points is going to win."


"On this play, the defense is going to take seven guys off the field and bring seven other guys in."

Feel free to add your own favorite Maddenisms in the comments. We'll add them to this post in loving memory of what we're losing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Five More Prospects

With the draft rapidly approaching, the Steelers have been meeting with more top-end prospects recently. Today's round of talent is no different, with three people coming through the doors that will likely go on the first day of the draft. Here's the rundown.

Alphonso Smith (CB-Wake Forest)

NFL.com Player Preview

NFLHouse Position Rank: 5th

Ian's Take: Smith has the athleticism and speed to be a top-flight corner, but his size (5'9") might hold him back a little bit, particularly against the bigger receivers. However, he is a gritty player that will mix it up in run defense and can absolutely fly with receivers in the open field. He is a hard worker that would fit the Steelers mold. If there are concerns about size, he can make up for them with his playmaking ability. He led the nation his junior year with 8 interceptions, 3 of which he took back for scores. He followed that up with 7 picks in his senior season last year.

Projected Round: late 1st-mid 2nd

Louis Delmas (S-Western Michigan)

NFL.com Player Preview

NFLHouse Position Rank: 2nd

Ian's Take: With Taylor Mays staying in school, the draft lacks any safeties that are first-round caliber. That being said, there are still solid playmakers to be found down the board in the lower rounds. Delmas is 5'11" yet considered slightly "undersized" at 200 lbs for a safety. But what he lacks in muscle bulk right now, he makes up for in leadership and playmaking. The guy is a hitter who will come up in run defense to lay the smackdown on a back. He is also very good in the open field and a good form tackler. He would provide youth and depth behind Ryan Clark at the Free Safety spot. With the loss of Anthony Smith to the Packers via free agency, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Steelers take a safety in this draft for depth purposes.

Projected Round: 2nd-3rd

Jarron Gilbert (DL-San Jose St)

NFL.com Player Preview

NFLHouse Position Rank: 6th (DE)

Ian's Take: Gilbert seems to be the ideal fit for a 3-4 DE in the NFL. In college he played every position along the defensive front, and at 6'5" 290 has the bulk and athleticism to play end in a 3-4 and still apply heat on the quarterback. He became a YouTube sensation when he made a video of himself jumpion out of a swimming pool. Scouts worry about his burst and quickness if he has to play end in a 4-3, but he is perfectly suited for a 3-4 end position, which will allow him opportunities to take on guards and centers rather than bulkier tackles.

Projected Round: late 1st-2nd

Jason Chery (WR- Louisiana-Lafayette)

NFLHouse Position Rank: n/a

Ian's Take: Chery is 6'0" 190 and not listed on NFL.com's list of prospects. He did put up 7 touchdowns for the Ragin' Cajuns last season, and that's pretty much all I know about him. He could be someone the Steelers pick up in a late round or as an undrafted free agent.

Projected Round: 6th-undrafted

Brandon Long (DE/OLB-Michigan State)

NFLHouse Position Rank: n/a

Ian's Take: Another player who is likely a late-round pick. He had an excellent pro day at Michigan State, which left scouts very impressed. He is undersized for a defensive end and likely projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. I don't really know much about him, but it doesn't seem likely he'll go off the board before the 5th round.

Projected Round: 5th-undrafted