View Full Version : Oregon RB visits; toe still big issue

04-11-2008, 06:06 AM

Friday, April 11, 2008
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jonathan Stewart Oregon running back stops by to show Steelers his foot is OK.The Steelers have not selected a running back in either of the first two rounds of the draft in the past 19 years. Yesterday, they took a look at one who could snap that drought.

Oregon's Jonathan Stewart paid a visit to the Steelers yesterday primarily to show off a small body part, his right big toe. He had surgery on the turf toe, injured last November, after he said he was encouraged to do so by NFL personnel at the Indianapolis draft combine in February.

If not for the toe injury/surgery, Stewart would be a top 10 pick. With it, he could be drafted by the Steelers, who don't pick until 23rd. It may be a Catch 22 -- if Stewart's toe is not a concern, he likely will be taken higher in the draft; if it is a concern and he lasts until the Steelers pick, do they use their first-round draft choice on a potential medical problem?

Independent scouting services do not agree on where Stewart ranks after his surgery. Pro Football Weekly rates him first among backs, NFL Draft Scout ranks him third and Scout ranks him sixth.

Stewart certainly had the goods last fall as a junior to prove he can be a top NFL running back. At 5-foot-10, 235 pounds, he ran for 1,722 yards and a 6.2-yard average per carry. He's a powerful runner inside and reminds some here of Barry Foster, a compact runner who set the Steelers' single-season rushing record with 1,690 yards in 1992.

Why would the Steelers be interested in Stewart when they have Willie Parker, the NFL's leading rusher through 14 games last season, a three-time 1,000-yard rusher and a two-time Pro Bowl back?

Because when they needed the tough yards last season or needed to run the clock to preserve a lead, they had trouble doing so. A power runner complimenting Parker could make a below-average offensive line look much better. Plus, the depth behind Parker is skimpy.

Najeh Davenport is set to make a $1 million salary next season as a backup. Gary Russell was a little used, undrafted rookie, although they do like his potential. Carey Davis is the lone fullback on the roster. Mewelde Moore was signed in free agency to serve as their third-down back.

Perhaps the Steelers will draft an offensive or defensive lineman or even another more pressing position with their first pick, but Stewart might be the ultimate bargain if he slips to No. 23.

While the Steelers normally stay away from players with injuries, they drafted tight end Heath Miller on the first round in 2005 under similar circumstances. Miller had surgery after the season to repair a sports hernia, which caused him to slip in the first round. The Steelers snapped him up with the No. 30 pick, and he's been a pleasant performer for them the past three seasons.

Georgia's Tim Worley was the last running back the Steelers drafted in the first round, in 1989 with the No. 7 overall pick.

I hope the staff takes a good long look at his toe because if they are seriously considering him as a selection the last thing we need is an injury prone problem who's making 3-4 million a year.

04-11-2008, 02:04 PM
Jonathan Stewart would be a nice addition but I don't think it will happen. I think it is more likely that they take someone like Tim Hightower who is projected as a 4th rounder. Scout.com's Tom Marino speaks highly of Hightower and says he may be the best North/South Yards After Contact back in this draft. I would like to see the O-line and D-line fill the first 2 picks on day 1. Day 2 WR, RB, and OLB (in any order) with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th picks. Maybe a project center with pick 6 to compete with Stapleton and Hartwig in training camp.

O-line and D-line are the picks we gotta get right. :yesnod:

Hawk Believer
04-11-2008, 03:59 PM
He has got a lot of upside. He's got a Steven Jackson type athletcism. A lot of people out here are hoping the Hawks might be able to pick him up a little bit later due to the toe injury. That would allude to the big downside though. He had a lot of injuries during his college career. I think he'll bounce back fine from this one, but durability is a concern.

04-11-2008, 04:33 PM
I really like the looks of him, a big powerful, yet still athletic back. Though the 0-line should be the no.1 priority right now.

04-13-2008, 06:51 PM
yeah im not sold on Stewart as OUR 1st round pick. He's a hell of a player, and i have little doubt that he will be a nice NFL back in a good 2 back system!!! i dont see he escaping the first round though!!! not sure why he was brought in to visit, if they are serious about him as a candidate i would be highly suprised and a lil disapointed (but not too disapointed) One thing i like about him more than most backs in this draft... he had huge yardage and huge work loads against the better competition!!!

04-14-2008, 01:31 AM
Well, a good RB don't help all that much, if he donsnt have an oline to help him run... I still wouldnt mind getting Stewart though.. That would be one evil RB team we'd have right there, and that would ofc, also bring a little presure off ben, since we'd be able to run the ball more...

04-14-2008, 03:05 PM
I'd love to pick him up if we only had a line.... but this is a heavily stacked tackle draft so who knows!

K Train
04-20-2008, 04:59 PM
all jokes aside hes without question the best back in this draft...easily.

he can do it all, hes like LT in that aspect of his game. Hes so fast, yet hes beefy and just punishes the defense...if we dont take him at 23 it would be dumb because the first time he gets on the field hes taking willies job

Black@Gold Forever32
04-20-2008, 05:14 PM
I'd love to pick him up if we only had a line.... but this is a heavily stacked tackle draft so who knows!

After Jake Long, Ryan Clady, Chris Williams and Brandon Albert there isn't a OL worth taking at 23....So I wouldn't mind Stewart at all if those top OL are gone by 23....

K Train
04-20-2008, 05:22 PM
i would actually be thrilled. hes gonna be a superstar, hes big strong, fast, great vision, great instints, great hands and a fantastic blocker.....hes the best back in the draft.

04-20-2008, 07:48 PM
I wouldn't be pissed if we took him, but I would prefer a WR (Malcolm Kelly or Limas Sweed would be lovely.)

By the way K Train, I think Rashard Mendenhall is the best back this year.

K Train
04-20-2008, 07:55 PM
mendenhall is a great recieving back, but hes more of a commitee runner imo, and hes terrible at blocking....TERRIBLE

04-21-2008, 05:01 PM
Haha, yeah not his forte. He is wicked athletic, has very good speed, good hands, stellar cutback ability, great vision, strong runner, not as bad as you make him sound pass blocking.