Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Personnel News Dominates

Naturally last weekend's draft dominated the news, and with so many media outlets covering what has become a circus we did not feel inclined to get into a "blow-by-blow" reportage of what we (and, probably, you) were seeing on the NFL Network/ESPN. However, with Tuesday's news that Larry Foote is soon to be an ex-Steeler (a rumor that was floating around during the week leading up to the Super Bowl) we decided to add our two cents to everything going on.

So far as Mr. Foote goes, like many of you we are a bit nervous about turning over the starting position to Lawrence Timmons. There is no doubt that Mr. Timmons showed flashes of brilliance during the 2008 season (and he may be the fastest player on the roster), but we just do not see him as an inside linebacker. If LaMarr Woodley had not performed at a Pro Bowl level last season we would wonder if there were not plans to move him inside and Mr. Timmons outside. Then again, how many times does Dick Lebeau have to dazzle us with his genius before we all just relax?

As for the draft . . .
  1. We just want it noted for the record that we were one of the first "media outlets" to report on Frank Summers (a.k.a. "Little Bus") as a potential late round pick for the Steelers. The young man has an interesting story (not the least of which is his dyslexia), one that involved going to Cal, redshirting, being placed on academic probation, leaving Cal, being offered a scholarship to play at USC but choosing UNLV instead. The folks at Pro Football Weekly like his size and his hands, but rated him as someone to be signed after the draft because of his lack of burst and inconsistent blocking.

  2. It speaks to how little we know about player evaluation that A.Q. Shipley lasted until the seventh round. We were impressed by his work at the Combine, he was well-regarded by NFL Network's resident expert Mike Mayock, and was described by Ourlad's Draft Service as a "[t]ough and intense player." Mr. Shipley has the fundamentals to be a serviceable offensive lineman in the NFL; and that fact makes this a terrific pick for the seventh round.

  3. We should know better than to doubt Kevin Colbert and the scouts of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but we are very dubious about the choice of Ra'Shon Harris in the sixth round. He certainly has good size ~ 6'3", 312 pounds ~ but Ourlad's rated him near the bottom of available defensive tackles (a score of 3.49, which in their system is indicative of a player who has some potential but is also borderline). Additionally, Pro Football Weekly in their very critical analysis indicated that Mr. Harris has "[q]uestionanle work habits."

  4. Conversely, we like the choice of Keenan Lewis in the third round. On the field, Ourlad's describes him as a "[g]ood man to man cover corner with long arms . . . Can . . . drive quickly on the ball in the air." Pro Football Weekly sees him as a below average tackler who lacks toughness (ouch!). Off the field Mr. Lewis and his family have a pretty compelling story, having been displaced from the home in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

The Steelers have their minicamp next weekend, and then "organized team activities" (OTA) May 19-21, May 26-28, June 2-4, and June 9-11. With so much activity on the horizon we believe that there will be more personnel moves in the offing.

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