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Monday, February 16, 2009

Time for the combine

It's a bit of a quiet period in the NFL, what with free agency still a couple of weeks away and all.

But the eyes and ears of the league will descend upon Indianapolis this week for the combine.

For guys like me, who concentrate so much on the NFL game that they only get to watch snippets of college games all year, it's a chance to catch up on some of the draft stuff.

I'll watch all the coverage - several times, actually, since it will be re-run a number of times – on the NFL Network. Obviously, watching a guy play is completely different from watching him run around in shorts, but you get a feel for a guy as an athlete.

The teams, meanwhile, will be trying to get a feel for them as people during their one-on-one meetings.

Here's some of the guys I'll be focusing on as possible first-day draft picks for the Steelers:

Round 1
Alex Mack, C, California. Mack's 6-4, 315-pounder who has the size to line up at guard as well.
Eben Britton, OT, Arizona. Britton is considered the fourth or fifth best offensive tackle prospect in this draft. At 6-5, 310 pounds, he has the size of a LT. I want to see how he moves to determine if he can play that spot in the NFL.
Max Unger, C, Oregon. At 6-5, 305, Unger's not quite as big as Mack, but he's played OT at the collegiate level.
Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU. The 6-5, 290-pound Jackson has prototypical 3-4 defensive end size. But does he have the motor?

Round 2
Phil Loadholt, OT, Oklahoma. Loadholt lives up to his name at 6-7, 340 pounds. He looks like a RT. Can he move?
Derrick Williams, WR, Penn State. Nate Washington could be gone and Williams could challenge Limas Sweed for the No. 3 spot while also taking over in the return game.
CBs Coye Francis, San Jose State; Victor Harris, Virginia Tech; Bruce Johnson, Miami; Sean Smith, Utah; Keenan Lewis, Oregon State. All have second-round grades right now and it will be a position of need if Bryant McFadden leaves. Deshea Townsend isn't getting any younger and his contract is up after the 2009 season.

© The last word on Butler

Here's the last word on the Keith Butler-Arizona Cardinals flirtation.

It turns out my source in Arizona was right, the Cardinals did, indeed, ask for and receive permission from the Steelers to talk to Butler about their defensive coordinator opening.

According to the Arizona Republic, Butler decided to stay in Pittsburgh, declining the interview offer.


Dave said...

Here is a cooperative mock draft I participated in last week as the Steeler rep. I chose Alex Mack in this and listed reasoning.


Anonymous said...

So I guess it's pretty safe to assume Butler is Lebeau's heir?

Dale Lolley said...

That would be correct.

Anonymous said...

Yah, I think its pretty obvious that they have him in line for DC when Lebeau does decide to call it a career (hopefully this doesnt happen for a while)

So what do we know about him? Those are awfully big shoes to fill, is he up to the task?

Anonymous said...

Dale what about Duke Robinson the guard from Oklahoma, I have seen people projecting us to pick him. Isn't he a name you should add to that list?

Rich said...

I don't necessarily disagree with your pick, just your reasoning. Center Jeff Hartings is indeed 36 (37 on September 9) and is an injury concern with historically bad knees, which is why he retired 2 years ago. Our current center, Justin Hartwig, is only 30 (31 in November). He actually did a decent job at Center, but was hurt by poor guard play next to him. Alex Mack is a good player that could play guard for a year or two until Hartwig's contract is up and then shift, or Hartwig could shift, although for Ben's sake I would keep Wig at center for continuity. I still think Warren Beatty of UCONN is a good pick at 32. Don't expect a WR in round two, give Sweed some time, WRs take at least 2 years. I would look CB and DL in second round, but lets face it, they will go for talent and need not just reach for need.

Anonymous said...

Duke Robinson is a total beast at Guard, he would be a great pick.

I am hoping we select either Alex Mack or Duke Robinson in the first round because all the top-tier OT's will be gone. We can select a OT in the 2nd or 3rd round. If both Mack and Robinson are gone by #32, I think we select a DE.

Question - if we select Alex Mack, any chance Hartwig starts at guard? not a big deal because Hartwig only has 1 contract year left just wondering if he can play guard

Anonymous said...

Rich - no way Alex Mack plays guard. He can start at Center right away. I like Hartwig but he only has 1 year left on contract so he can move to guard in the case we select Mack

Dale Lolley said...

Mack can indeed play guard. Remember, Dermontti Dawson played guard while Webster was still here, then moved to the center position.
The Steelers like their guards to be able to pull. They like quick, mobile guys, which Mack is.
Robinson is not. Robinson doesn't move well.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the info Dale

I also wouldn't be surprised to see the Steelers move up to the mid-20's to grab Mack or one of the offensive tackles similar to how they traded up to get Holmes after winning SB XL

ch3 said...

"Puke" Robinson is just that, puke. The Steelers will not draft this guy. Mack would be a good pick. Eric Wood, from Louisville, looked good at the Senior Bowl. He can play guard or center, and could be taken in the 2nd or 3rd round.

Patrick said...

I love draft talk and I will read all of your opinions and enjoy it.

But I guees I'm starting to get old, because I know all of this talk will completely change by mid April and even during the day of the draft. Who would of expected us to ever draft Rothesliberger, Holmes, Miller or Mendenhall? Nobody in Feb of those years saw those picks being there. The only one that wasn't too suprising was Timmons.

My point is A LOT changes between now and late April. Mack could jump up the boards or fall drastically.

My favorite draft guy is Brandon Browner, I think was his name. In Feb everyone had him as sure fire 1st rounder. I don't think he was ever drafted and is now in the CFL.

the draft is fun.

Anonymous said...

drafting Holmes wasn't a big surprise

but yes you make a good point.

I think we can all agree that we hope they draft a stud for the offensive line

Anonymous said...

Patrick, I agree that some of the picks (especially Mendenhall) came out of nowhere, but a lot of the Steelers first round picks were widely predicted.

With Big Ben, the only question was whether he or Rivers would be available.

Heath Miller was the consensus pick in mocks that year, if I recall correctly. Same with Timmons.

Many people were pulling for Troy P, given the glaring need at safety that year.

So, yeah, it's all just speculation, but the speculation can be pretty accurate.

Patrick said...

I remember being extremely suprised Cleveland did not take Ben. After that it was only a question of if someone would trade up and snatch him. Heath Miller was a consensus in a lot of mocks as April neared because of his injury and surgery, but not in Feb. I think everyone had the jets taking him much earlier.

I agree though it can be accurate, but Free Agency hasn't even started. So much will change.

adamg said...

On Butler, if he is the "heir apparent" DC, where does that leave John Mitchell? Don't forget Tomlin named him "assistant head coach" and Mitchell has been here a lot longer than Butler and developed and maintained the consistency of the DL over those many years.

Dale, do you think the Steelers will take a late round flyer on AQ Shipley? Personally, I don't think Shipley is really big enough, but you never know.

Dale Lolley said...

I don't know about Shipley. Haven't heard any scuttlebutt about him.

Anonymous said...

What about Jonathon Luigs? No one seems to mention him much. I find that odd, since he was twice named the best center in the NCAA and helped paved the war for McFadden and Felix Jones to rush for over 1000 apiece three years in a row.