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Thread: You can never draft too many O-linemen

          
   
   
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  1. #1
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    You can never draft too many O-linemen

    By Ryan Wilson
    SteelCityInsider.com
    Posted Mar 13, 2008



    The last time the Steelers drafted an offensive lineman in the second round it was 2000 and that turned out pretty well. It might be time to go to that well again.

    Tell me if this sounds familiar: the Pittsburgh Steelers need to fix the offensive line. Yes, that horse has been beaten to death. But we've been having this conversation for five years now. I trace it back to the team choosing not to re-sign Wayne Gandy after the 2002 season. Which meant the offensive line featured, from left to right, Marvel Smith, Alan Faneca, Jeff Hartings, Kendall Simmons and Todd Fordham. Until Smith got hurt six weeks into the season and Fordham was benched for almost getting Tommy Maddox paralyzed (I may be misremembering the details on that one).

    The offensive line's struggles that year pretty much encapsulated the Steelers' 6-10 record. With an obvious need for depth (if nothing else), the Steelers signed Duce Staley in the off-season -- perhaps they had designs on moving him to guard once he "bulked up" -- along with Travis Kirshke, Terry Fair and Chris Gardocki. They did draft Max Starks in the third round (and took a flier on Bo Lacy in the sixth), but that was the extent of their o-line upgrades.

    A year later, it was more of the same, although a 15-1 record masked the offensive line's inadequacies. Winning has a way of solving a lot of problems, even if only temporarily. In the 2005 draft, the Steelers again took a tackle in the third round, this time Trai Essex, a former tight end who had eaten himself out of the position. Three rounds later, Pittsburgh selected Chris Kemoeatu.

    And the pattern of sketchy line play followed by addressing the problems in a piecemeal, late-first-day/late-round fashion continued; in 2006, Willie Colon was drafted in the fourth round and Marvin Philip in the sixth. Last year, Cameron Stephenson was a fifth-rounder.

    And all the while, the Steelers have been among one of the worst pass-blocking units in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders. Adjusted sack rate rank, by year:

    2000 - 24th
    2001 - 13th
    2002 - 14th
    2003 - 23rd
    2004 - 28th
    2005 - 23rd
    2006 - 25th
    2007 - 31st

    Obviously, this is all Ben Roethlisberger's fault. The fall off the cliff started with Big Ben's arrival, and this is further proof that Maddox was wrongfully benched. Or maybe the front office and coaching staff should be held responsible for the current sorry state of things. Everybody admits that Roethlisberger will never be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in that he's not a five-step-and-out type of passer. Sure, he can do it, but he also likes to give his receivers time to get open, work outside the pocket, and occasionally, take a few sacks. Who's to say how many times Big Ben goes down playing behind Brady's line (save the Super Bowl) or Manning's front five, but I'm guessing it's well short of 47 since they combined for 42 sacks last season.

    While it's hard to argue with the success rate the Steelers have had with recent first-round picks, it's been the second-round picks that have probably caused the most damage. Yes, I know, we might as well call Kevin Colbert "Mario Mendoza" when it comes to hitting on second-day picks, but it's not like any team or general manager is routinely nailing rounds 4-7. Alonzo Jackson is the most gut-wrenching example, but since Bill Cowher allegedly pulled the trigger on that deal in 2003, the Steelers have taken Ricardo Colclough, Bryant McFadden, Anthony Smith and Willie Reid (the two third-rounders from the '06 draft), and LaMarr Woodley. Of the bunch, Woodley is the most promising, but that's almost by default.

    In retrospect, Pittsburgh probably should've devoted one or two of those second-rounders to addressing the o-line. Of course, if the front office, coaches and scouts knew Jackson and Colclough would be busts, and Smith, Reid and McFadden would underachieve they presumably wouldn't have drafted them. And to be fair, there really wasn't much to choose from in Round 2 among centers, guards and tackles in the 2003-2005 draft. Not until 2006 -- when the Steelers traded out of the second round -- was there an abundance of offensive linemen, many of whom would currently be starters in Pittsburgh.

    Beginning with pick No. 39, there was Winston Justice, Deuce Lutui, Daryn Colledge, Marcus McNeill, Ryan Cook, Andrew Whitworth, and Jeremy Trueblood. And the two first selections of the third round were Charles Spencer and Eric Winston. And last year, Arron Sears, Justin Blalock, Tony Ugoh, Ryan Kalil and Samson Satele were all second-rounders.

    The point isn't to play "woulda, shoulda, coulda" with past drafts but to suggest two things going forward:

    1. This draft, more than most, is chocked full of quality offensive linemen; the Steelers shouldn't be afraid to draft one in the second round. Look, given the circumstances, I don't think there would be many objections from Steeler Nation if the team took some combination of center, guard, tackle in Rounds 1 and 2. Right now, Branden Albert is the heavy favorite at 1.23 (he has a 95 percent mock draft approval rating) and a part of me will be disappointed if he's not the pick. A part of Roethlisberger will also be disappointed -- and sore -- if Albert isn't the guy. And, if, I don't know, Mike Pollak or Anthony Collins or Sam Baker (or whomever) happens to be hanging around at 2.53, the Steelers should make that happen too. A $10-$15 million dollar investment in the offensive line seems only prudent when it'll be protecting the $100 million quarterback.

    2. Taking a linemen in the second round shouldn't preclude them from doing likewise in Round 1 but only if it's the best player available. Last year, virtually nobody outside of the Steelers' war room was a Lawrence Timmons fan, but most of us thought Ben Grubbs was a stretch at 1.15. Looking back, I'm not so sure, but nobody had him going until the mid-20s of the first round. And even if you don't like Timmons, passing on Grubbs at 1.15 was the right thing to do at the time. Which means that if Albert or Chris Williams or Jeff Otah (or again, whomever) is gone when the Steelers go on the clock, they have to draft their board. And barring quarterback or tight end -- as Colbert has mentioned earlier this off-season -- every other position is a possibility. And while I'd love the Steelers to go on a six-pick run of o-linemen, there's no need to reach when there are plenty of needs on this team outside of the offensive line.

    In the meantime, I'll continue to pray to the god of mock drafts that Albert and Pollak somehow find their way to Pittsburgh. It seems like the right thing to do.

    Good article. I hadn't realized just how bad our O-line had been for so long! I guess this just supports that you get what you pay for. We have been getting most of our linemen from late day 2 picks which means we have been drafting leftovers nobody else wanted. I realize that occasionally you might hit on a gem in later rounds but that is the exception not the rule.
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    K Train's Avatar
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    show me heath benedict in the second.

    everyone is hating the timmons pick which is gay....hes gonna be a badass

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    I have said for years that the Steelers OL stinks at pass blocking....Of course Ben takes more sacks then other QBs do....But he also escapes from a ton of sacks as well......

    Also Ktrain I don't think he is hating on the Timmons pick....If the Steelers OL wasn't such a mess he wouldn't even mentioned it....But I had Tony Ugoh on my board last year since I have really wanted a LT for years.....I thought trading down at 15 was the best option....But hey Timmons was the pick and he has the skills to be a very good player...I hope he works out and wins the ILB job over Foote....That would be sweet.....

    But its been years of the Steelers neglecting their OL that led to this current mess.....They have drafted a ton of OL over the years also but only Faneca, Smith and Simmons have been the only successful OL picks since 98...Starks has been inconsistent but he has shown he can start in the NFL...I have high hope for Willie Colon still....I hope he is moved to OG....

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    this time Trai Essex, a former tight end who had eaten himself out of the position.
    LMFAO!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Black@Gold Forever32
    .They have drafted a ton of OL over the years also but only Faneca, Smith and Simmons have been the only successful OL picks since 98...
    Exactly, its one thing to draft an *** load of players at OL but when 75% of them don't pan out, we got a problem with drafting and scouting. Like the article said, the SB win masked a few problems especially at OL but the 2006 season should've been a big eye opener. The trenches on both sides have been overlooked for years as far as quality players, yeah we drafted those positions but damn we're hurting now. Forget about the blame game, its time to draft quality starters in rounds 1-6 starting THIS YEAR!!!!!


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    That's one thing about the Cowher era, he might not have drafted the best OL but he did hit some home runs and he also brought in FA's to help fill in the gaps for draftees that didn't pan out. Im not sure anybody would be that upset if this team went interior line with all their day 1 picks. When you neglect the offensive line it will eventually catch up to you, and it has for us. You should really draft an OL on day 1 every year because you never know who's going to leave, not pan out, get hurt, etc.

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    Draft stock rising

    Top 10 Pro Day Risers

    By Wes Bunting
    CowboyBlitz Scouting Analyst
    Posted Mar 13, 2008



    Take a look at who has improved their draft stock after this week’s Pro Days…

    Coming down the final stretch of the NFL Draft season, we now hit the Pro Day portion. Universities will now host their own mini versions of the NFL combine for the schools’ top prospects. Each week I will be taking a look at the top 10 NFL prospects that improved their draft stock due to their recent postseason performances.

    Branden Albert - Offensive Tackle, Virginia
    Albert displayed some of the most flexible and fluid hips of any guard to show up at the combine in the last five years. He has the feet and athleticism to dominate at left guard in the NFL, and the more scouts watch tape on this guy, the higher his stock continues to rise. He will be one of, if not the safest pick in this year’s draft.

    Okay! I am sold that this guy is worth our first round pick. Question now seems to be, will he be available at the 23rd pick or will he be long gone? This pick is a good one and like the title to this thread says, you can never draft too many offensive linemen. No doubt if he is as good as we think he will be he will earn his way into the starting line-up. Too bad he wasn't a stud center. That is the position I am most worried about filling.
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    SA's #1 Pirates Fan Tetris Champion Black@Gold Forever32's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGold4vr View Post
    Okay! I am sold that this guy is worth our first round pick. Question now seems to be, will he be available at the 23rd pick or will he be long gone? This pick is a good one and like the title to this thread says, you can never draft too many offensive linemen. No doubt if he is as good as we think he will be he will earn his way into the starting line-up. Too bad he wasn't a stud center. That is the position I am most worried about filling.
    Albert seems to have the skills to be a dominating OL in the NFL....Trust me I wouldn't mind at all if he is drafted.....I'm worried about center also....But I do think we could pick up a solid one in the second day of the draft....Your guy from Bowling Green or Doug Legursky.....I think either one could be a solid NFL center...Not a great like Mike Webster or Dirt Dawson...I don't really expect either of those two to be good as Jeff Hartings.....But both of them have to be better then Mahan...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Black@Gold Forever32 View Post
    Albert seems to have the skills to be a dominating OL in the NFL....Trust me I wouldn't mind at all if he is drafted.....I'm worried about center also....But I do think we could pick up a solid one in the second day of the draft....Your guy from Bowling Green or Doug Legursky.....I think either one could be a solid NFL center...Not a great like Mike Webster or Dirt Dawson...I don't really expect either of those two to be good as Jeff Hartings.....But both of them have to be better then Mahan...

    Dermontti Dawson was drafted in the 2nd round, 44th overall pick, out of Kentucky (not a football powerhouse by any stretch).

    Mike Webster was drafted in the 5th round, 125th overall pick, out of Wisconsin

    Who knew that either of these guys would be HOF's? Obviously Webster musta had some negatives in his scouting report to go in the 5th round. You never know when someone we take may turn into one of the next great names in Steeler folklore. If all the future Hall Of Famers had it stamped on them at the combine it would make this selection process a lot easier!
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    SA's #1 Pirates Fan Tetris Champion Black@Gold Forever32's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGold4vr View Post
    Dermontti Dawson was drafted in the 2nd round, 44th overall pick, out of Kentucky (not a football powerhouse by any stretch).

    Mike Webster was drafted in the 5th round, 125th overall pick, out of Wisconsin

    Who knew that either of these guys would be HOF's? Obviously Webster musta had some negatives in his scouting report to go in the 5th round. You never know when someone we take may turn into one of the next great names in Steeler folklore. If all the future Hall Of Famers had it stamped on them at the combine it would make this selection process a lot easier!
    I know was a 5th rounder Webster and Dawson was a 2nd....I'm just saying I don't see any of these centers in this class as future Hall of Famers....Of course there is a chance for them to be in Canton....But I'm being realistic and I'm fine with finding just a solid center that can hold his own which currently this team doesn't have unless Darnell Stapleton shocks the world.....

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    thats all we need...someone to hold their own....at least like 60% of the time lol

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