Since 2008, do any of these names ring a bell?
Bruce Davis, Limas Sweed or Kraig Urbick?
Unless you’re a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers Fan, these names should not mean anything to you at all. Unfortunately for the Steelers, these names do mean something. They mean mistakes and missed opportunities.
Now before everyone gets all upset, and starts to put on their proverbial” fighting gloves”, I happen to think during the Kevin Colbert Era, for the most part, Steelers have done an outstanding job of drafting and developing some fantastic players. I would love to sit and wax poetically about all the talent that we have drafted and developed during the course of the last decade but that would take me off course of where the state of the team is at this current juncture.
I have read a ton of negatives this offseason about the Steelers basically their total lack of free agency and the salary cap situation being about as positive as being a member of the Manson family, but in reality, this time had to come.
Omar Kahn is not only one of, if not the best “Capologist” in the NFL today, the amount of offers he has passed up to become a general manager in this league tells me this man knows quite a bit about this game and how it works. Over the years he has worked his magic to help the team not only sign its top picks (most without any type of extended holdout), he has managed to work, and sometimes re-work contracts to help build Lombardi Trophy winning teams. He has done that not through making huge splashes in the free agent market.
He, Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin and the Rooney Family have always done it the Steeler Way: Draft, Develop, earn your starting spot and you might even become a legend in the Burgh in the process.
As Mike Tomlin once said “On our team, we have Starter A, and Starter B has to be ready to step up when his number is called. At one point, I believe that he could say that with a feeling of confidence.
These days, I’m not so sure.
The reason I mentioned the former failed draft picks earlier is because they were third round or higher picks. I haven’t even mentioned Ziggy Hood or Cam Heyward. Hood has shown some flashes of being a player, just not a first-round pick. Every time I see Heyward on the field, he always seems to be doing his job; the problem is I don’t think Steelers fans have seen him on the field enough. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but this has to be his breakthrough year.
This is a team with a lot of variables. From age, to health and what at times seemed to be a lack of team chemistry last year, they can’t afford to miss on this year’s draft class. Period. They need to make this their best class in long time. With so many holes to fill and so many players needing to be pushed for their jobs, the” War Room” in Pittsburgh needs to have an outstanding three days this week.
The core group of players is not getting any younger. Big Ben has not played a complete season in some time now and while Bruce Gradkowski does not strike the fear into me that the Batch/Leftwich combo did the past few seasons, the Steelers need No. 7 on the field and healthy.
Do they take a gamble on Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee to give Big Ben that playmaker he will need going into the golden years of his career, or do they go with the supposedly safer pick of Jarvis Jones from Georgia? Many had thought they would try and get Kenny Vaccaro of Texas to eventually fill Troy Polamalu’s position at safety, but I can’t see him lasting until pick No.17. They also have the option of trading out of the first round entirely to stockpile as many draft picks as possible which from a retooling standpoint, may just be a great move.
With the lack of several true “can’t miss” prospects at the top of round one, I can’t see them trading up in round one at all. Overall, the picture is most definitely not as bleak as a lot of the “experts” would have you believe, it is without a doubt their most important draft in years.
That being said, the cupboard is not completely bare. As long as Big Ben is healthy and throwing, Lawrence Timmons continues being the complete animal that he is and Antonio Brown and LaMarr Woodley go back to being themselves and possibly having someone step up and establish themselves at running back, (can you hear me Jon Dwyer?) the Steelers still have talent on their roster.
They just have to make sure that starting April 25th, they add a whole lot more.