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Reasons Why the Steelers will Draft a TE

Blitzburg has a great analysis about Heath Miller and how much it might cost the Steelers to resign him. As great as Miller's been here are some reasons why they won't resign Miller.

1. Matt Spaeth has been fine in limited playing time and comes at a cheaper price than Miller. In 09 we should see him get a little more playing time before he takes over in 2010.

2. The Steelers drafted Heath Miller in 05 (first round) and Matt Spaeth in 07 (third round). If you're wondering if they drafted a TE in 03 they didn't, but they did sign one, Jay Riemersma to split time with Tuman who they drafted in '99. So since 2005 we've taken one year off between drafting a TE.

Interestingly enough, looking at pre-draft rankings Spaeth was ranked all over the place from a late 7th round pick to the third. He was the third TE taken (after Greg Olsen and Zach Miller). Apparently the Steelers saw something they liked.  Another note: the NYG drafted Kevin Boss in the 5th round (the 6th TE taken).

3. Taking the first three rounds of the drafts from the last six years we see that the number of TEs drafted goes up and down. In 2008 seven were drafted. In '07, three. In '06, eight. In '05, three. In '04, five, and in '03, seven. Outside of 2003 we see this up/down pattern. Assuming this has more to do with the needs than overall talent, in 2009 we should see fewer TEs drafted in the first three rounds. Few teams take the best overall player like the Steelers do.

Of the 33 TEs taken over the last six years, 8 have been in the 1st round, 12 in the second, and 13 in the third. I see us taking a TE in the third round, possibly the second if one of the elite TEs in the draft falls to us.

4. There are 4 top ranked TEs in this years draft: Brandon Pettigrew (Oklahoma State) Jared Cook (South Carolina), Shawn Nelson (Southern Miss), Chase Coffman (Missouri). Drafts never go the way people think they'll go (just spend some time looking at mocks from a few years ago like I did), but it seems like that at the very least we'll get the fifth best TE in the draft in the third round, and perhaps one from the top four will fall to us. But as we learned from Spaeth, pre-draft rankings don't always tell the whole story.

Looking at various mock drafts there seems to be 5 teams that need a TE (NO, Phi, Atl, Car, and SD) and there isn't much in the free agent market (Scaife,  Daniels, LJ Smith, Kleinsasser), so assuming a couple of these sign TEs (therefore knocking TE priority down a few notches) that leaves three teams in the hunt for a 1st or 2nd round TE.

Few teams have been as successful as the Steelers in drafting talent. It looks like the strategy for the Steelers is to draft and develop a TE rather than spending the big bucks. I love Heath, but I expect this pattern to continue. Draft, develop, and draft again.

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