Before highlighting the Steelers' Day 2 selections individually, a few thoughts about this year's draft.
1. Weak Draft For Several Critical Positions:
This was a very, very weak draft for LBs, DTs, and Safetys. It would have been nice to get some depth to help Aaron Smith , Casey Hampton, and Bruce Keisel. I also wonder when we plan to add another ILB to join Lawrence Timmons as Farrior and Foote's long-term replacements, and we discovered the hard way last year that we are not quite as deep and impressive at the safety position as it may seem on paper. We did not reach to try to fill any of these needs, something I'm very pleased about.
2. Best Player Available:
It's obvious that we needed help in the trenches, but when the Top 7 OL were off the board by the time we picked in the first round, we were forced into an easy decision of taking the best player available. Top 7 by pick 23! The Houston Texas reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaached so far for Duane Brown at 26. Tony Hills, who we drafted in Round 4, has just as much upside as Brown. Perhaps a bit more risky for injury purposes, but let's be clear that neither Hills nor Brown is likely to start in their rookie years. Brown might by year two, but he won't do it well, he'll just get forced in there because of what the Texans have invested in him as a 1st rounder.
3. Our Offense Is Now Set
Our offensive weapons are as deep and impressive as anybody's in football. Heath, Hines, Santonio, Limas, Rashard, FWP, Mewelde Moore, Nate....WOW!!! There's only one player in that group who's on the downside of his career - Hines. And there's only one other player who's getting close to that point, and that's up for debate - Willie Parker. The rest of that crop is under 25, extremely talented, and different than each other in terms of what they bring to the table ability wise.
4. But What About the O-Line?
Good question, but it's too early to be too gloom and doom and say that we're going to have a repeat of 2007 all over again. If there are only two starters in 2008 that are playing the same position as they did in 2007(Simmons and Marvel Smith), I can't see how it's a done deal that our offensive line is going to be awful. Mahan off the field, Hartwig at center, Starks at right tackle, and Colon at guard may be better than we expect. Maybe not, but it's too early to tell.
5. Rounds 3 and 4 Might Be As Good As Rounds 1 and 2 Were:
As excited as I was to pick up Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed on Day 1, I was just as pleased with picks three and four. Bruce Davis had 24.5 sacks his last two years at UCLA. Talk about getting after the quarterback! He's a prototypical pass-rushing LB that the Steelers love so much. At 250+ pounds, he'll be able to play some along the line if we play more 4-3 in the future, but for the immediate future, we'll have LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison and Bruce Davis hounding opposing QBs. I like. As for Tony HIlls? Well, if the Steelers medical staff thinks he's fully recovered from some of the injuries that plagued him during his career at the University of Texas, who are we to question their medical expertise? Hills is not yet a mauler in the running game, but he has lots of potential to become a very good pass-protection tackle in this league. We'll profile him in greater depth this week.