I know what you were thinking Friday night, when the Steelers turn in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft finally arrived. It was probably the same thing you were thinking Thursday night, when Pittsburgh was on the clock in Round 1: "Yes! Andrew Billings = championship!"
Back to Friday night. If you weren't wishing for Billings, you might have been hoping for Vonn Bell, safety, Ohio State or Darian Thompson, safety, Boise State. What about Kendall Fuller, cornerback, Virginia Tech? Any of those three would have been great "value" picks, right?
But since it was the second round of the NFL Draft, the Steelers naturally selected someone that made you say, "Who?" if you weren't one of the people saying, "Worst. Pick. Ever!"
Instead of going with one of those aforementioned prospects that you and I may have heard of, Pittsburgh used its second round choice to take Sean Davis, corner/safety, Maryland. So is he a cornerback? Is he a safety?
You mean to tell me I fantasized about Karl Joseph all these weeks, and when he shows up for the date, he looks like Sean freakin' Davis?
This trend of unpopular second round picks is nothing new, of course -- you can call it the Senquez Golson effect.
Shortly after the Steelers selected outside linebacker Jason Worilds out of Virginia Tech in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, my brother texted me something along the lines of: "We drafted an outside linebacker? We don't need an outside linebacker. We need an inside linebacker. What about Sean Lee from Penn State? Golden Tate [wide receiver, Notre Dame] was there, too!"
Back to Sean Lee, who hails from the South Hills area. A day or two after the draft, his dad came into my store wearing a Cowboys cap (Dallas drafted Lee, after Pittsburgh elected not to). He looked at me and said, "You guys should have drafted my son." I thought to myself, "I had nothing to do with it. If I had, I certainly would have drafted your son because I know more about football than Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin."
The following year, the Steelers used their second round pick to select tackle Marcus Gilbert out of Florida. I remember reading about how Gilbert was a bit of a reach and a project. Speaking of projects, prior to the 2012 NFL Draft, Mike Adams, the risky tackle from Ohio State, drove all the way to Pittsburgh to convince the Steelers front office that he had changed his ways -- ways that included failing a drug test at the NFL Combine -- and his determination paid off, as Pittsburgh selected him in the second round.
Perhaps the Mona Lisa of unpopular Steelers' second round draft picks was running back Le'Veon Bell, who the Steelers had the nerve to select in 2013 instead of Eddie Lacy. (To say the choice of Bell was polarizing would be an understatement.)
Two years ago, Pittsburgh used its second round pick to draft Stephon Tuitt, a defensive end out of Notre Dame. And while this was a bit of a head-scratcher, considering the need at corner and receiver, fans quickly warmed up to Tuitt's unquestionable draft value and potential. (Even defensive line coach John Mitchell gushed about Tuitt, and when coach Mitchell likes someone, WE ALL like someone.)
You may still be scratching your head over the selection of Davis in the second round, but if you examine the careers of those recent second round picks (with the exception of Adams, who hasn't panned out, unfortunately), that might stop your itch.
After some struggles with injuries, Worilds ultimately worked his way into the starting lineup in 2013--the last year of his rookie contract. Worilds performed so well as a starter--recording eight quarterback sacks--Pittsburgh felt compelled to place a transition tag worth $9.754 million on him prior to the 2014 season. Worilds again performed well in 2014 (7.5 sacks), and he might still be playing linebacker at a high-level somewhere in the NFL right now, if he hadn't decided to retire at the age of 27.
As for Gilbert, he hasn't always been a fan-favorite, but he has almost always been in the lineup, starting 13 games at right tackle in his rookie year and 62, overall, during his first five years with the Steelers.
Bell obviously is a superstar, and Tuitt appears to be oh-so-close to becoming one in his own right.
The jury is still out on Golson, the 5'9" cornerback from Ole Miss who Pittsburgh selected in the second round a year ago (Golson missed his rookie year due to a shoulder injury), but it wouldn't surprise me to see him emerge as a starter sooner rather than later.
As a matter of fact, it wouldn't surprise me to see Golson and Davis team-up to make a lot of great plays in the secondary over the next few years.
Maybe I don't know more about football than Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin, after all.