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BlackGold4vr
01-20-2009, 03:55 PM
TUESDAY, JAN. 20

1:55 p.m.: I don't know how writers get much quality "scouting" done down here since it's so vast, but I've narrowed my focus to linemen.

I've seen two North practices at this point, but it took till the second one to get a feel for it. So, I set my sites on Max Unger and Alex Mack, a pair of center/guards from the Pac 10. Problem is, Casey Hampton Jr. is down here wrecking all the plays. His name is B.J. Raji and it doesn't look like he's going to allow any plays to occur. They may as well just cancel the game. Seriously, Raji looks like Hampton did 50 pounds ago. I don't know what any of the scouts are saying, but this guy will be someone's nose tackle next season. Better hope someone else grabs him before the Bengals or Browns do. Should the Steelers draft him? Hell, yeah. But they'll never get the chance. They'll be sorting through the wreckage to try to come up with an offensive lineman who could at least hold him.

Mack did the better job than Unger. He's shorter than Unger and looks like a stronger version of Darnell Stapleton. A scout told me he's a high second-rounder and I can understand why he's not a first-rounder, because he may not be big enough to play guard. He weighed in at 6-4, 312 but looks more squat than that. In fact, I'm very surprised that he's 6-4, but will trust the tape. "He'll knock you on your ***," one scout told me, and he does appear to have that toughness and nastiness. He can move a bit, too.

Unger is considered a late first-rounder because he's a bit taller and has a frame to build on, and he also played left tackle a bit this season at Oregon. He told me Monday night that he'd never played guard and felt awful there Monday afternoon. On Tuesday morning, Unger was steamrolled and flattened by Raji a few times in one-on-one drills. Unger did a better job at center, but maybe he'll do an even better job at left tackle. He's a nice guy and my first impression of him is that he's a California-type left tackle, whereas Mack appears to have some Mike Webster in him. Neither have knocked me out. I want me a Raji instead.

* One of the North tackles interests me because he has bona fide NFL size. I know Phil Loadhold has his failings, but while his feet are a bit slow, he can play right tackle in the league. A massive man at 6-8, 343, Loadholt, according to someone at the weigh-in, looked "cut" without his shirt, particularly in comparison to Herman Johnson, who checked in at 6-7, 382, and was supposedly very flabby. But I saw Johnson in his jersey Monday night (no pads) and he looks like Max Starks. Johnson is a South guard. I'll watch him play later today, but I hear he was tried at tackle and his feet are too slow. Can't see the Steelers drafting a guard in the first round who can't get out in front of screens.

* A couple of other notes on some North linemen: Andy Levitre of Oregon State isn't much of an athletic specimen and doesn't flatten his back much, if at all, while run-blocking. He's a feisty pass-blocker, but I wouldn't draft him before the third round.

* William Beatty of UConn is the best athlete of the North O-linemen. He's light but a real knee-bender with quick feet. Would make a good long-term prospect if it's determined he can add weight.

* Steelers scouts are here, but they're low-key and don't want to talk. I spoke with Kevin Colbert before I left and he surprised me by saying he doesn't like the Senior Bowl as much as the combine. He said that, yes, it's great to watch the guys practice and scrimmage, but said he can't get much from the player interviews at the Senior Bowl, so he isn't too interested in trying. He said he'd rather talk to them at the combine and beyond. Funny, I remember a report last year, the first report on a Steelers sighting at the Senior Bowl, that they were talking to a guy named Limas Sweed.

* After the first practice, I walked onto the field to get a few quick words with either Mack or Unger. A rep from the Cleveland Browns cut me off both times. He also talked quickly to Levitre. So chalk the Browns up for interior linemen. The Redskins also had a man on Mack and Unger immediately following the first practice.


Anybody that can get Mike Webster comparisons from Jim Wexell is a person we might want to look at. That person being Alex Mack, C from Cal.

B.J. Raji is currently ranked 19th on the scout.com draft board and if he continues to steamroll O-lineman he will surely move up on that board.

Problem with the senior bowl is you don't get to see the underclassmen compete against the peers they are being drafted with. :yesnod:

DIESELMAN
01-20-2009, 06:24 PM
His name is B.J. Raji and it doesn't look like he's going to allow any plays to occur. They may as well just cancel the game. Seriously, Raji looks like Hampton did 50 pounds ago. I don't know what any of the scouts are saying, but this guy will be someone's nose tackle next season. Better hope someone else grabs him before the Bengals or Browns do. Should the Steelers draft him? Hell, yeah. But they'll never get the chance. They'll be sorting through the wreckage to try to come up with an offensive lineman who could at least hold him.

Other DT prospects are Alabama's Terrance "Mount Cody" Cody 6'5" 365+ and Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh 6'4" 300+. Suh had a monster bowl game, he led NU with eight tackles, including 3 behind the line of scrimmage. He added two sacks to his team-high total, now 7. He also blocked a field goal. Suh (6' 4 304 lbs) is now considering entering the 2009 NFL Draft

Heres a vid of Raji, he's the 2nd from the bottom on the DL #90, he's going against LG Eric Olsen from ND.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAs7UtO5-S4

BlackGold4vr
01-20-2009, 07:35 PM
I would love to see the Steelers move up in this draft and aggressively pursue a need. I'm tired of seeing activity by every other team as the Steelers passively sit back and wait to see what leftovers drop into their lap.


O-line/D-line


Package a deal and move up to grab a stud! We Don't need 7 or 8 picks. We're in the Superbowl which means we already have a great nucleus. If we make 7 picks, 4 might not even make the 53 man roster. Hell, some of those teams that pick in the top 10 have so many needs they will trade down for more picks.


B.J. Raji is a stud. No doubt if Oher and Smith are already gone and you have a shot at a Raji, you gotta take it. Having vented I know the Steelers will stay put and never even sniff any of those top names. :yesnod:

seth_westover
01-20-2009, 10:40 PM
I'd love to get Raji but it wont happen! he is a ****ing beast!! we gotta improve the oline!! its the FIRST AND MAIN PRIORITY!!!

steelcityrockers
01-21-2009, 09:47 PM
Raji isn't bad but he isn't great either. He is having a good off season but was inconsistent at BC.

K Train
01-22-2009, 05:28 PM
i really like raji....he will fly up the boards, he had a great last few games and his workouts will make his stock sky rocket. hes not "what casey hamton used to be" but he could definitley be a better prospect than alot of DTs that have come out recently....branch, okoye, dorsey, balmer and ellis....none of them have really become anything so far

V_83
01-22-2009, 06:20 PM
I'd love to get Raji but it wont happen! he is a ****ing beast!! we gotta improve the oline!! its the FIRST AND MAIN PRIORITY!!!

I agree completely. After watching last years draft hoping for some offensive lineman, we got Mendenhall and Sweed. While I think both will have excellent careers in the future, if we don't have an o-line to block for them, as seen this season, our offense will play like $hit.