Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Steelers add playmakers

Part of the problem the Steelers had in 2012 was a lack of playmakers at the skill positions.

By playmakers, I mean guys who either score touchdowns or turn the ball over to get the ball back for the offense.

The Steelers feel they took a step in the right direction with their new draft class.

First-round pick Jarvis Jones not recorded 14.5 sacks in 2012 and 28 in the past two seasons, he also forced nine fumbles. The strip-sack was something that has been missing in the Steelers defense the past two years.

Running back Le'Veon Bell, the team's second pick, is obviously someone who can score touchdowns, having reached the end zone 33 times at Michigan State.

The Steelers made Bell the second running back taken in this draft, taking him over Eddie Lacy, who didn't pass the team's medical exam due to a toe issue, and Montee Ball, who the team felt had taken too much abuse in college.

The Steelers also liked Bell's pass catching ability more than those two players.

In the third round, Pittsburgh took explosive receiver Markus Wheaton.

Wheaton scored just 16 touchdowns in 49 career games at Oregon State, but that was more of a product of the quarterbacks he played with than it was a knock on his ability.

Despite being 5-11, 182 pounds, Wheaton is strong with the ball in his hands. He's so polished as a runner, the Beavers used him an average of twice per game as a runner. He also averaged seven catches per game in his senior season when he scored 12 receiving touchdowns.

All told, it was a nice haul, particularly in the first three rounds where you have to get potential starters.

13 comments:

Joe Jones said...

Dale,

Can we get some extra info on the guys selected rounds 5-7.

I feel we all have a pretty good idea about the early picks.

datruth4life said...

Dale, to me, the biggest drawback to this draft for the Steelers is passing on ILB Arthur Brown in the 2nd round. I believe that he can be a leader and face of your defense for the next decade as a 3 down LB. I don't think that Le'Veon Bell is a face of your franchise type RB. And adding salt to the wound was him being picked up by the Ravens. The Curse of Ozzie. So, I guess, the question is would the Steelers be a better football team now and in the future with L. Bell at RB or would it have been better with ILB A. Brown & vet RB Ahmad Bradshaw? Other than that, I'm pretty satisfied with this draft.

As far as the rookie FAs, the player that I am most interested in is KR/WR Reggie Dunn. I looked at his measurables compared to those of Tavon Austin, who was a 1st round pick by the St. Louis Rams. Austin posted these numbers at the combine:

5’8.4’’ height, 174 lbs., 14 reps at 225 lbs., 4.28 40-yard dash, 32-inch vertical, 10’0’’ broad jump, 1.50 10-yard split.

Now look at the numbers for Reggie Dunn, who wasn’t invited to the combine but posted these numbers at his Pro Day:

5’9.3’’, 178 lbs., 17 reps at 225 lbs., 4.25 and 4.26 40-yard dash times, 36-inch vertical, 10’1’’ broad jump, 1.52 10-yard split.

Yes, there is the little thing called production and being a starter at WR, a top 10 pick and arguably the most explosive player in the country, but you gotta love Dunn's speed and big play ability at a rookie free agent cost for the Steelers.

I noticed in at least one of his videos that Dunn caught a long touchdown on a fly pattern from the slot. If Dunn can return kickoff, punt returns and play some in the slot, do you think he has a chance to stick? Also, do you think Justin Brown can beat out Plaxico for that big WR spot? I'm thinking the Steelers could keep 6 WRs this year (AB, Sanders, Cotchery, Wheaton, Brown, Dunn).

BTW, the numbers for 7th round pick DE Nick Williams are pretty intriguing: 6’4.5’’, 309 lbs., 4.84 40-yard dash, 28 reps at 225 lbs, 1.70 10-yard split, 33-inch vertical (he has a higher vertical than Tavon Austin!), 9’3’’ broad jump. Love that he was a basketball player first that only played football one year in high school before going to Samford. A big raw piece of clay for John Mitchell. Here’s hoping the Steelers don’t try to stick this guy on the practice squad. If he is ready, keep him on the regular roster and let him learn since Keisel, Hood, A. Woods will all be free agents next year. Maybe Mitchell will do a better job with him than he has Ziggy Hood, who should lose his spot to Cam Heyward this year. Hood has been a big disappointment thus far. Body like Tarzan, play like Jane.

Whack said...

I have heard a lot of grumbling that we did not take ILB Arthur Brown...

my take on it this...

- Steelers's were more desperate at running back than ILB... and as Dale noted above... they needed some playmakers.

- next year, the Steeler's will have fewer needs to address and they can focus their attention on a true 1st round or top stud ILB... instead of a guy that some thought to be small and went at the bottom of round 2

Steeler's had... have a lot of needs... pretty near impossible to expect they solve them all with one draft...

marc said...

datruth,
they need a younger, better option at RB, no doubt. sure, they could have taken brown, but they already have a stud inside. you don't need two in there. i don't even consider bradshaw a short term solution and, apparantly, neither do any other nfl teams right now. brown may end up being a hall of famer, who knows, but the steelers need to keep replenishing different areas to maintain a well rounded team.

the pick i don't like is the QB in the fourth. waste. unless they look at him as an investment to trade and get more picks in the future, total waste.

Dale Lolley said...

Given that no linebacker has been a full-time starter as a rookie since I started covering the team in 1993, I doubt Brown would have bucked that trend - as much as I liked him as well.
Bell should be an immediate starter. And we don't know how Bradshaw's medicals tested out.

Even if they had signed Bradshaw, it likely would have been to a one or two-year deal, so you wouldn't have reaped the benefits of having both Brown and Bradshaw long term.

If Bell is who they think he is, he'll be their starting running back for at least the next five or six seasons.

Henigin said...

The other part of this is amount of investment in one position - both dollars and picks. After the pick of JJ, the Steelers have recent big dollars already given to Woodley & Timmons, and now a first round pick to the LB group. Add to that the two first round picks in the past 4 yrs to the defensive line, and I think they just saw that they needed to diversify their investments a bit. Hopefully some of these young guys show improvement and growth this year and provide the Steelers with a great front seven.

datruth4life said...

Marc, I agree. You can't solve all your needs in one draft. Maybe the 6th round LB Williams will be a surprise. I just think 3 or 4 years down the road, about the time it takes to fully evaluate a draft, the effectiveness of a draft is defined by how many impact players you have contributing from that draft. I'm not sold on Bell as a franchise face RB. I think A. Brown and L. Timmons would have been dynamite, though Brown would not have started this year unless there was an injury. I do agree that RB was the bigger need this year. I just think that RBs are easier to find than 3-down impact LBs. Maybe Sean Spence will be healthy next year and make this discussion moot. I think he would have been dynamite in this defense.

datruth4life said...

Dale, you think there is any chance that the Steelers sign A. Bradshaw (if his medicals are OK) and trade or release J. Dwyer?

And you didn't talk about which rookie free agents you think might have a chance to stick.

datruth4life said...

Henigin, I think the 3-headed combo at NT will have a lot to say on how effective this D will be this year, especially against the run. I think McClendon is ready to make a name for himself and Ta'amu and Fangugo could be cap-friendly pluggers with some upside. I like the infusion of youth on this D, particulary the secondary with C. Allen, R. Golden, S. Thomas & the rookie CB. I hope they have better hands than Ike and Ryan Clark.

datruth4life said...

Dale, when the Steelers traded up to get Thomas, who did you expect them to take with that other 4th round pick? I know I was sitting there rooting for them to FS Philip Thomas from Fresno State, the leading interceptor in the nation last year (he ended up being taken by the Redskins a spots later). If the Steelers would have selected S. Thomas from Syracuse and then P. Thomas, the Steelers would have had both safety replacements on board for Clark and Polamula. I am still high on S Robert Golden, so maybe they still have their future starters at safety on board anyways. I'm not complaining about selecting a QB in the 4th round like most of the writers in Pittsburgh are. I'm just as tired as seeing the Steelers trot out Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch each preseason as the next person. At least they have Gradkowski and Jones under contract for the next 3years so you don't have to worry about the QB position again until down the road.

Dale Lolley said...

Thomas was the guy I looked for there

Nate said...

DaTruth, I like Dunn in the return game - unfortunately he looks like a slightly taller version of Stefan Logan. To be fair, I know nothing about Utah's offense over the past couple years, but Dunn really produced nothing as a WR.

As far as Brown goes, I doubt the Steelers will release Burress to make room for Brown. They might keep both - AB, Sanders, Cotchery, Wheaton, Burress, Brown - but Brown will probably have to prove his worth on special teams to make the roster. He's a project at WR.

bos daiwei said...

And adding salt to the wound was him being picked up by the Ravens. The Curse of Ozzie. So, I guess, the question is would the Steelers be a better football team now and in the future with L. Bell at RB or would it have been better with ILB A.
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