I'm loving this time of the year. Not just because we have finally reached draft weekend and are beginning to see the shape of the future of the Steelers organization, but just as important we are finally moving out of the MSU phase of the NFL year. MSU stands for Making (Stuff) Up. For the past few months we have been at the mercy of hopes, fears, fantasies and manipulations of fans and media as to what the Steelers and anyone else needed or ought to do about team needs and desires. I don't know what you think about the first round pick but Tomlin and Colbert looked like a couple of guys who've gotten away with larceny. That's reality.
The story on Jones seems remarkably similar to that of last year's first round pick David DeCastro; a strong talent that they coveted, but whom they didn't believe would fall to the level that they could obtain him. A few things worked in their favor; a poor 40 time at his pro day being perhaps the most important. This statistical evaluation receives a lot of emphasis in the MSU phase of things. In observing Tomlin and Colbert at their press conference it would be hard to overstate how unconcerned they were at Jones' 40 time. Of course, we'll have to wait to actually see him on the field, but I believe that the defense has been shored up and strengthen for this season and into the foreseeable future.
While offensive linemen were the big story throughout the rest of the league in the first round, the AFC North engaged in a defensive arms race for the most part (the Bengals being the exception). With two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks in Ben and Flacco in the division, you better have the capacity to shut those guys down
The Harrison tragedy and a mea culpa
It appears as if the team would have selected Jones in any case if he was available, but the situation certainly became more urgent after the Steelers and James Harrison parted ways. This makes the Harrison saga the most important off season story of 2013. It is a tragedy because it clearly involved a miscalculation on the part of Harrison and his advisors as to his market value. He ended signing with the Bengals for less than what he would have made had he remained with the Steelers. I suspect that in the years to come the Deebo in black and orange will seem as sad and poignant as seeing Franco Harris wearing Seattle blue; a tragic conclusion that was probably avoidable.
As for the mea culpa part, I aligned myself with some remarks made by Mark Madden in this space a week ago. I have had the opportunity to revisit the issue and have concluded that the suggestion that Harrison hates Pitttsburgh constitutes a smear. I apologize to James and to you.
There will be more checkdown to come as the draft progresses.