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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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Getting Draft Ready: Who is best?

Lost in most mock drafts is just how good any one player is irrespective of their respective positions ~ i.e. is Alex Mack/Max Unger/Ebeb Britton the thirty-second best player available or just the player that best fits the Steelers' needs, or both?

A nice resource that came our way today is the Super 99 Ranking from the Sporting News. The rankings, which include 40-yard dash times, performance in the bench press, and other Combine-ish metrics; have USC quarterback Mark Sanchez as the best player available ~ and Matthew Stafford at #9.

As for players mentioned as being of interest to Pittsburgh, the highest rated player known to be on the Steelers' draft board is Alex Mack (Center, California) who comes in at #18, which would make him quite a value if available at the end of the first round. D.J. Moore, the cornerback out of Vanderbilt is #27; Ebben Britton, tackle from Arizona is #61; and Max Unger, center from Oregon, is #65.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Getting Draft Ready: The Draft Bible

Like all of you, we are always looking for new mock drafts to satisfy our "need" for information about how the Steelers will use their picks in the upcoming NFL draft.

We came across NFL Draft Bible recently, and love its format.

Rather than simply predicting a particular player at a particular point in the draft the folks behind Draft Bible provide information about previous drafts ~ i.e. the player choices that worked out well (e.g. Ben Roethlisberger) and those that were not quite as . . . inspired (e.g. Ricardo Colclough) ~ as well as team's five-year record, and (most significant in terms of the draft) the team's areas of need and the players who will best fill those needs.

The site is as close to comprehensive as a single page can be; and, overall, a great resource

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The 2009 schedule is up!

The schedule for the 2009 regular season schedule has been released and posted to your favorite Pittsburgh Steelers blog.

The thing that most immediately jumped out at us is that the Steelers have to wait until week eight for their bye week ~ this after having had the bye in week six the past two seasons and week four during the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Indeed, the 2009 bye week is the latest since the 2004 season when Pittsburgh had week seven off, a season in which the Steelers went 15-1.


Getting draft ready: Multiple Mocks, multiple rounds

Scott Wright's Draft Countdown: In his previous effort Mr. Wright had the Steelers choosing Max Unger at #32 and Jarron Gilbert, a defensive end from San Jose State University, at #64. However now that the Steelers have re-signed Chris Kemoeatu and Max Starks he believes offensive line is less of a concern. In this newest draft Mr. Writght projects Pittsburgh choosing Alphonso Smith, a cornerback from Wake Forest, with their first round pick. In the second round Mr. Wirght is standing by Jarron Gilbert at #64.

NFL Draft Dog: Another two round effort, this one has Pittsburgh selecting Eben Britton, an offensive tackle from Arizona, at #32 ~ no change from their earlier drat. In the second round they predict Coye Francies, a cornerback from San Jose State as the man at #64. They describe Mr. Francies as a "very underrated, talented cornerback. Didn't have a great combine run (4.56), but proved his talent with a fantastic Senior Bowl performance."

FF Toolbox: Multiple writers make multiple choices ~ most identify offensive line as the area the Steelers will target.

A number of these drafts are multiple rounds, and the last one listed here gives you seven rounds of draft goodness!

NFL Draft Blitz: Alex Mack will be the man at #32 according to these folks

My NFL Draft: Alex Mack again!

Draft Daddy: Alphonso Smith gets a second vote.

Draft King: Max Unger, our choice, is their choice.

The Football Expert: A seven round monster mock that has Alex Mack predicted at #32, and D.J. Moore (CB, Vanderbilt) at #64,

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Getting Draft Ready: Five Days and Counting

We are poring over mock drafts and scouting reports in anticipation of next weekend's NFL Draft; and in anticipation of a busy weekend we will offer up links to a variety of mock drafts each day between now and then.

Today we focus on Don Banks' most up-to-date draft at Sports Illustrated. We especially like this one because it moves away from the "average" mock draft ~ i.e. Matthew Stafford is not the number one pick. We have mentioned many times that we do not consider ourselves expert when it comes to player evaluation but we do believe that, all things being equal, choosing an offensive lineman with a high pick is almost always better than choosing a quarterback. Mr. Banks has an offensive lineman going at #1.

As for the Steelers, Mr. Banks has them choosing the versatile Max Unger with pick #32.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Coming Soon: The 2009 Regular Season Schedule

The NFL released a statement today announcing that there will be an announcement next week. Specifically the NFL Network will broadcast the schedule release Tuesday, April 14th at 7:00PM (EDT).

The press release goes on to say that:
"fans who want to see their team’s entire schedule right away to plan their football season, NFL.com is the place to visit on Tuesday at 7:00 PM ET. NFL.com will be the first site to have the complete team-by-team and weekly schedules of all 256 regular-season games, listing opponents, sites and times. NFL.com will feature interactive components by giving fans a voice through chats, fan forums and poll questions.

Other features on the website will include analysis by NFL.com reporters and breakdowns of the division schedules. NFL.com will include which games will be on CBS, ESPN, FOX, NBC and NFL Network. There will also be printer-friendly versions of the team-by-team and week-by-week schedules."