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Steelers Draft in Review: Round 2

It's easy to go over the top with optimism or pessimism about any draft, but it's rarely as good or as bad as we think it could be. I’m going to try to give a tempered analysis of the players we drafted, hopefully helping us understand why we made some picks and keeping our expectations at a rational level.

Round two: Limas Sweed 6’4, 212. 4.48 40, 35" vertical 

Strengths: PB@BON covered his strengths and weaknesses very well, but to summarize and add my two cents, he is a big receiver with a long stride that can eat up the CB’s cushion and get up for the jump ball. He can make athletic catches with great body control and generally adjusts to the ball well. He uses his body well to shield the ball, although he will probably get a few PA calls for push-offs in the NFL. He improved each year he played at Texas before his injuries, and seems to have a good, hard working attitude. 

Weaknesses: He had two injuries this season, a sprained ankle and a damaged wrist ligament, but before that he was very durable. The wrist lingered for a while before having surgery, but it’s a wrist, not a knee, and there’s no reason to believe it will be a concern going forward. He was playing through injuries, but he didn’t look great this past season when he was on the field. While he can make outstanding catches, he also can drop easy passes while looking upfield, and is not an outstanding route runner. He may have some trouble getting off the line against press coverage in the NFL. 

Sweed has a gift for getting separation from defenders by pushing off of them.

Analysis: As PB@BON said, it may take a year or two before he is ready to be a dominant receiver, so hold off on the top 5 offense talks for now. If he adjusts well to the NFL and continues to work hard, 2009’s offense of Parker/Mendenhall, Miller, Holmes, Sweed, and Ward in the slot (oh, and Roethlisberger) looks pretty potent. Like I said with Mendenhall, the biggest causes of a bust are a poor attitude and an injury history. While Sweed had some injuries last year, he has that hard working attitude that could really allow him to grow into a good NFL receiver. 

If Sweed proves himself capable of starting for us, we will have leverage to renegotiate Ward’s contract next year, and I pray that he’ll be willing to finish his career as a Steeler after we gave him an above market deal for a few years. While our receivers were workable before picking up Sweed, he should raise the ante for Reid and Washington; if they don’t come on strong and prove that they are worth a new contract, we can let them go without worry. 

Passed on: C Mike Pollack, DL’s Pat Sims, Dre Moore, and Kendall Langford, OT Anthony Collins

The toughest decision may have been between Sweed and Quentin Groves if the Jags hadn’t jumped just ahead of us to get him (I hope Groves sucks in the 4-3, stupid jerks), as both have lower first round talent with some question marks. Pollack would have given us a clearer future at OC, but we may already have that in Stapleton, and Pollack doesn’t have the upside of Sweed. One of the other linemen would have been a reach based on need, and many solid guys would still be available later (not that we picked any). Once again, we got a fairly low risk, high upside guy that was just too good to pass up to fill a bigger need.