I have plans to ask for a few minutes of Jim Wexell's time before the 2011 NFL Draft, but knowing that he was busy this past weekend at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, I thought I'd wait until the dust settles. Fortunately, Wexell joined the FAN Morning Show on 93.7 in Pittsburgh this morning and fielded questions I was very much interested in hearing his take on. So I took the time to transcribe most of the roughly six minute spot for those of you who aren't able to listen to audio for whatever reason.
Wexell is the man. Great football mind, total straight shooter, a calls it likes he sees it reporter. He's been a friend of the site here and I hope to get him on BTSC here in the next few weeks. There's an incredible amount of free content out there on the web these days. But really, the subscription to Wexell's Steel City Insider is well worth the small price. Certainly in comparison to ESPN Insider, that's for sure.
To his commentary about what he saw at the Combine this weekend. I'd be curious to hear you all's take on some of his insights.
On which cornerbacks he was impressed by at the Combine and who he thinks is worth keeping a close eye on:
"Well let me just add that the cornerbacks work out on Tuesday. We in the media have been sent home -- the availability for interviews is over. So with corners, a lot has to do with size and speed at the Combine, so that's a little caveat. Otherwise, there are like 17m, 18 corners that get 3rd or 4th Round grades. So it's a deep class. Not only do you have a guy like Patrick Peterson who could possibly become the first cornerback ever chosen at No. 1, it's a deep crop. So I don't know that they have to get one in the 1st Round. I went through a little mini-mock....because Kevin Colbert had said on the first day that this draft is deep in corners, offensive tackles, and wide receivers, and we could mix and match and get one of at the bottom of each of the first three rounds. Mix and match. So I went into that thinking, mix and match, let's get one of each. And I came away regretting getting a cornerback in the first round because there were so many good ones available in the third. And I wonder if the Steelers will be thinking that way.
Well, I asked a couple of those third round corners and they said, yes. A guy like Brandon Burton has two scheduled meetings with the Steelers -- they guy from Utah who did such a good job covering John Ball in the opener. Rashard Carmichael who said he hoped to get drafted by the Steelers; his best friend is Jason Worilds. He has a formal meeting set up with the Steelers. There are formal degrees of interest. I took his information down, therefore some people promote that as interest. Other times there are formal meetings with the position coach, the offensive coordinator. Then there was a formal meeting with Mike Tomlin; then there's two meetings that Brandon Burton is getting, so he's a guy to keep an eye on."
Whether he agrees with the segment of the Steelers fanbase that isn't interested in seeing another project-type CB taken in the mid-rounds:
"Well, I agree with that, but at the bottom of the first round there's no one really to love. There's a guy Raheem Moore, who was a free safety at UCLA, and under the tutelage of the great Carnell Lake he had ten interceptions his sophomore year. Last year, his junior year, he had one and Lake wasn't there. I don't know if that has anything to do with each other. I asked him who he looks up to hoping to get a Troy Polamalu answer. And he said Ed Reed. Ed Reed is my mentor. I owe everything to Ed Reed. I said what about Carnell Lake? He said, oh yeah, he was good too. Carnell Lake and Ed Reed are my two mentors. I ask him about switching to corner because he's a guy, he's got the size, the speed, the whole bit, and he would also be a fallback to play safety if you draft him as a corner. He could fall back to play safety, he's an elite athlete that's going to be at the bottom of the round. And he said, yeah yeah, I'm going to play corner, I'm going to test here, a lot of teams are looking at me as a corner. But then he went on to say how much he loves to play free safety. So I don't know how much of a legitimate candidate he is, but he is 21 years old, he'll be a 21-year old rookie. And as we know, three of the last four No. 1 picks have been 21-year olds. They like drafting them young, they like drafting juniors. But I don't know that he's the guy that makes you want to jump. When you look and say I can get a good corner in the third round, the second round -- I don't know he makes you want to jump. And the other guy is Aaron Williams. I don't know, I didn't talk to Aaron, I didn't gauge the interest level from the Steelers. But he's another tall corner. He and Jimmy Smith though -- they make you nervous. They're 6-1 and 6-2, and they make you nervous because if a tall guy doesn't have the hips, if they can't turn them and run in coverage, you've got pretty much a worthless athlete; just a tall guy that can't run. So you have to be careful down there."