The past 10 years have proven quite fruitful for the Pittsburgh Steelers thanks in part to wise—and safe— drafting techniques. While fans of the New York Jets and Detroit Lions look for the next big star year after year, Pittsburgh waits for the perfect pick to fall right into their hands. Smart drafting is the reason Pittsburgh won SuperBowl XLIII, as first round draft picks from the last eight years played monumental roles in bringing home the Lombardi trophy.
Many yinzers are excited about the prospect of University of Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin dropping all the way to pick 32 now that he tested positive for marijuana. Honestly, I will be surprised if he falls to the Steelers considering he runs a 4.3 40 and is possibly the most athletic player in the draft. That said, Antwaan Randle El was also the most athletic player in the draft and he has yet to score more than four touchdowns in a season. Whoever takes him will be doing the Steelers a favor anyway. This kid has too many off-the-field problems, including an up-to-no-good entourage that rivals MC Hammer’s.
If the Steelers are set on a wide receiver, Hakeem Nicks from the University of North Carolina would be a better fit than Harvin. Nicks has a solid foundation at 6-1 215 and has big time athleticism. He has more skill than many WRs in the draft, and his 8/217/3 against West Virginia in the Meineke Car Care Bowl proves it. The only knock on Nicks is that he is a junior and has not mastered the game of football; there are still many things he must learn in order to become the franchise receiver a first round pick should ensure. Most experts are predicting him to go in the second round, but the reach would be worth it to see a Santonio Holmes/Nicks WR core that could be one of the best in the league.
Look for Pittsburgh to rebuild a traditional strength by drafting two offensive linemen in the first two rounds—though there is an outside shot they’ll take a cornerback. Considering that Pittsburgh quarterbacks have been sacked 96 times in the past two seasons, it’s obvious that the offensive line is in need of serious help. The three best possibilities for the Steelers are center Alex Mack from California, guard/center Max Unger from Oregon, and tackle Eben Britton from Arizona. Do not expect Britton to fall to the Steelers, but if he does Pittsburgh fans will not be disappointed in the coming years.
Here are three key things to look out for in this year’s draft:
- The Lion’s choice with the number one overall pick. Detroit has not yet realized that a quarterback will not succeed unless he has a solid offensive line in front of him. Watch on draft day as the Lions will most likely pick Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford over offensive linemen Jason Smith from Baylor. Then, stay tuned for the 2009 season when the Lions follow up last years 0-16 campaign by winning only two games, resulting in another first overall pick they’ll blow on a wide receiver.
- Quarterback Josh Freeman from Kansas State. This kid is going to be a big time player in the NFL. He has the arm strength, skill, and vision to become another Daunte Culpepper.
- A draft day trade between the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns to send WR Braylon Edwards to the Big Apple.