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Did Pittsburgh Get It Backwards?

I don't really have any big bones to pick with the players the Steelers selected in the 2007 draft, but I keep coming back to the same nagging quesiton: "Did Pittsburgh get things backwards in 2006 and 2007?"

Think this through with me. In 2006, the NFL Draft was positively loaded with linebacker prospects. A.J. Hawk, Ernie Sims, Chad Greenway, Bobby Carpenter, DeMeco Ryans, Rocky McIntosh, and Thomas Howard were all elite first- and second-round prospects. You could argue that Lawrence Timmons would have been drafted behind all of those players.

Think, then, about the wide receiving prospects in the 2006 draft. The Steelers actually traded up to draft Santonio Holmes, and while I actually like Holmes quite a bit, the Ohio State product arguably would have been the sixth best prospect in the 2007 NFL Draft - behind Johnson, Bowe, Meachem, Gonzalez, and Rice.

In other words, the Steelers could have sat tight at #32 in last year's draft, landed DeMeco Ryans, Rocky McIntosh or Thomas Howard and been in position to draft one of the elite receivers this year.

Admittedly, this is a dangerous game to play - especially with the way Holmes came on at the end of last season - but it's something to think about. The Steelers drafted a receiver in the first round in a year with a ton of elite linebacker prospects (and few elite WRs), then drafted two linebackers the following year when there were a ton of elite wide receiver prospects (and few elite LBs).

As always, we won't be able to evaluate these drafts for at least two or three more years, but it's an interesting thought that I haven't been able to shake this weekend.