Wow, what a whirlwind of a Saturday for the Pittsburgh Steelers. After spending the first two days fixated on the action, I took a break this morning only to come back and see some outstanding developments.
* There were of course four rounds of drafting to be done by the Steelers and the rest of the league on Saturday. We'll get there, but first, how about the acquisition of cornerback Bryant McFadden from the Arizona Cardinals?!? If you've read here for more than a year, you probably remember how disappointed I was that the Steelers let him get away last year. My reasoning was it just didn't make much sense to develop a 2nd round draft pick only to let him walk when he was in the peak window of his physical prime. Anyway, what's done is done. He's back in Pittsburgh now, and in my mind, this move makes the Steelers defense very, very versatile and deep. You may not think overly highly of B-Mac as a player, but he's great against the run, knows Dick LeBeau's defense and should allow guys like William Gay, Joe Burnett, et al to have to shoulder less of the load than they might be ready for. More on this move later.
* On to the draft picks. First let's go over who they were and were they were selected.
Round 4, Pick # 18 (#116): Thaddeus Gibson, DE, Ohio State
Quick Hit Reaction: Well, well. Looks like the Steelers were much more serious about bolstering their depth and talent at the OLB position. Thaddeus Gibson, like 2nd round draft pick Jason Worilds, was a DE in college that will hopefully be groomed into a menacing pass rusher down the line. For now, Gibson will have a great opportunity at making an impact on special teams. He's quite fast and agile for a man his size so I'd expect him to do a much better job on coverage units than what we grew accustomed to last season.
Round 5, Pick # 20 (#151): Chris Scott, OT, Tennessee
Quick Hit Reaction: Not sure what I think about trying to find talent at such a crucial position in the mid-rounds, but Chris Scott certainly has plenty going for him. He's tall at 6'4" and he apparently has the ability to use his big, strong hands effectively. From the sound of it though, he may lack the natural balance and agility to play left tackle. Or at least that's the knock on him for now. It's hard to say what the Steelers will do with Willie Colon after this year. He's restricted free agent once again, and the Steelers will almost certainly have him start until he gets injured or performs poorly enough to be yanked. Hopefully that doesn't happen though for his and the team's sake. I think it's safe to say that Scott will begin his professional career on the practice squad of the Steelers.
Round 5, Pick # 33 (#164 compensatory): Crezdon Butler, CB, Clemson
Quick Hit Reaction: With the re-acquisition of Bryant McFadden, I don't see anywhere on the roster where Butler could fit in this coming season. Butler is fast, real fast. From what I can tell though, he's raw in terms of football savvy. Who knows, maybe a year or two of work at the professional level will get him ready for life at the NFL level. If nothing else, I think his presence at mini-camps and at Latrobe will push the existing young talent on the depth chart to elevate their games. It will be an open competition between guys like him, Burnett, Lewis, etc., so I wouldn't count him out just yet. But seems like a practice squad addition at best for the immediate future.
Round 5, Pick # 35 (#166 compensatory): Stevenson Sylvester, LB, Utah
Quikc Hit Reaction: I love (changed from I like) this pick in round five by the Steelers. Sylvester is good in pass coverage, quick and instinctual, and is extremely competitive. That seems to be the theme of the draft to me - the Steelers have targeted guys who love to play football and hate to lose. Sylvester was part of some pretty damn good Utes teams during his career in Salt Lake City. Sylvester is apparently not as effective as a blitzer as he is in other facets, but that's okay. ILBs aren't necessarily asked to do too, too much blitzing in LeBeau's schemes, and when they do, it's often in confusing stunts that don't require the LB to do too much but hit his gap at the right moment and at full speed. I'm not sure there's a spot for him this year considering the four guys at ILB - Farrior, Foote, Timmons and Fox. Who knows though. Patrick Bailey and Andre Frazier's days could be numbered if Sylvester looks good from day one in the black and gold.
Round 6, Pick # 19 (#188): Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech
Quick Hit Reaction: The Steelers finally get a fresh body at the RB position by drafting Georgia Tech's Jonathan Dwyer in the 6th round. Great, great value here, as Dwyer was at one time thought of a 1st or 2nd round pick. Some believe that his draft stock plummeted because of him playing slightly out of position at fullback in the triple option offense deployed at GA Tech the past few years. Fine by me if it means Dwyer has been trained to run downhill and not be shy of contact. I think he'll be a nice addition to the running game, in more than one department. I also like that he probably feels like he's got everything in the world to prove to his doubters. Hey, he was on the cover of EA Sports' NCAA Football 2010 - he has to be a stud, right? Great pickup here that I imagine plenty of Steelers fans are excited about.
Round 6, Pick # 26 (#195 from ARI): Antonio Brown, WR, Central Michigan
Quick Hit Reaction: Another highly competitive and productive WR with lots of speed, but not much size. Sounds a lot like the Steelers third round pick Emmanuel Sanders and their third round pick from a year ago, Mike Wallace. Obviously I don't know much about the kid, but you've got to like how experienced he is making plays in the passing game during his collegiate career, and his 4.4 speed certainly jumps out at you. It looks like he also has some experience returning kicks and punts. I wouldn't at all put it past him to make the 53-man roster, but I don't see how both he and Sanders make the squad. May the best man win!
Round 7, Pick # 35 (#242 compensatory): Doug Worthington, DT, Ohio State
Quick Hit Reaction: Running long, but I don't want to dismiss the Steelers final pick of this year's draft as one not worthy of any attention. In fact, I think it's one of the better picks of Saturday. Worthington lacks the type of athleticism to make scouts drool, but on the surface at least, I think he may make a whole lot of sense in LeBeau's 3-4 scheme. He's strong at the point of attack, clogs lanes well, and has no problem at all doing the dirty work so that others behind him can make the plays that show up in the stat book. Sound like anybody we know on the team? Not saying he will become Aaron Smith or Brett Keisel, but he at least fits the bill in terms of his skill set and size. We'll see how Sonny Harris has developed this past year, but I think we'll see either him or Worthington dressing this coming year at the bottom of the DL depth chart.