The Pittsburgh Steelers usually know how to pick amazing players in the draft. It’s hard to say whether this will be a “good” or “bad” draft until we actually see who sticks around and who steps it up (Mike Wallace, anyone?). It’s also nice to finally be able to talk about football instead of off-season drama.
Here’s who the Steelers drafted in 2010:
Round #1: Maurkice Pouncey, C, Florida
Not only is Pouncey a terrific guard and an even better center, he seems like a pretty nice guy. Suffice it to say that the Steelers are in need of guys with character after what happened this off-season (do we really need to get into that again?). They’ll most likely start him at right guard, an always suspect spot on the Steelers’ o-line, and keep Justin Hartwig as center. Pouncey will be a most welcome, solid addition. Ben could use an effective guard, what with all the brain cells he lost getting sacked last season — on top of the copious amount of alcohol consumption he was partaking in this summer.
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Round #2: Jason Worilds, DE, Virginia Tech
Worilds most likely won’t see much playing time as a rookie, unless LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison get hurt (and let’s hope that doesn’t happen!). It’s hard to predict how well he’ll play in the pros, but he could become a great up-and-coming star as Harrison ages. He had 15.5 sacks as a Hokie and could be a key outside linebacker for the Steelers’ 3-4 defense.
Round #3: Emmanuel Sanders, WR, SMU
So Sanders probably wouldn’t have been chosen by the Steelers if Santonio Holmes was still on the roster, but they’re probably thinking that he can become the next Mike Wallace. Sanders had great stats last season: 98 receptions for 7 TDs. With Limas Sweed, who so far looks like a dud, and Antwaan Randel El back as a Steeler, the fight for the #3 receiver spot could become rather interesting. With mentors like Hines Ward, Randel El, and Wallace, the Steelers won’t have to miss Holmes this season.
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Round #4: Thaddeus Gibson, LB, Ohio State
The first Buckeye to be taken in the draft, this guy is big (he’s 6′2″ and 243 pounds), but he’s also fast, so he could become a big-play maker. He’ll probably follow Worilds’ path and develop into an outside linebacker for the 3-4 defense. The Steelers will most likely utilize him on special teams for now. And with Larry Foote back (it’s nice to have all these veterans come back to Pittsburgh!), the Steelers are making the right moves by beefing up their already formidable linebacker corps.
Round #5: Chris Scott, OT, Tennessee
With his size (320 pounds), it’s difficult to say how fast he’ll be in the NFL, but he was a powerful blocker for the Vols. Since the Steelers picked up Pouncey, he may not get much playing time as a rookie, but they could always use more depth in their o-line. Guess they won’t bring every ex-Steeler back, as they want to focus on young linemen and have no plans to talk with Alan Faneca, who was released by the New York Jets on Saturday.
Round #5: Crezdon Butler, CB, Clemson
Finally…a cornerback! And Bryant McFadden is back (thank goodness!). After Troy Polamalu was injured most of last season, the holes in the secondary were brutally apparent. Ugh, the painful memories. The Steelers desperately need a young, fast, smart cornerback, and Butler could be the answer. His productivity went down toward the end of his college career, but hopefully it’s nothing good coaching can’t fix.
Round #5: Stevenson Sylvester, LB, Utah
Another linebacker, really? Still, Sylvester had 269 tackles, 10 passes broken up, and 9 sacks, and the Steelers will most likely use him on the inside. He’s 6″2″ and 235 pounds, so he may need to bulk up a little bit to play linebacker in the pros. As for now, his strength and speed should be a great addition to the special teams unit.
Round #6: Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Georgia Tech
Dwyer is a fantastic pick for the Steelers. He’s a 225-pound running back and his nickname is Diesel…nothing could say “Steelers” more. Rashard Mendenhall will obviously see the most playing time, but Dwyer could be the perfect short-yardage back who can give Mendenhall a break. This guy is a steal. He reportedly tested positive on a drug test at the NFL Combine, but it sounds like it was for something that was cleared with the NFL. Whatever his condition, if he plays well and works in tandem with Mendenhall, he could help bring the Steelers back to the glory days of a running-focused offense.
Round #6: Antonio Brown, WR, Central Michigan
So with Ward, Wallace, Randle El, Sweed, and Sanders, there just may not be enough room for this guy. If Sweed struggles again though, he may be able to fight for that roster spot. Brown did lead the nation in punt returns as a senior as well. Let’s face it: The Steelers special teams could always use the help.
Round #7: Doug Worthington, DT, Ohio State
Again, the Steelers are focusing on their aging defensive line. Worthington had 42 tackles and 2 sacks last season for the Buckeyes. Building depth and versatility on defense is extremely important to the team in 2010, especially after the colossal fourth-quarter defensive meltdowns the Steelers were so famous for last season.
This draft all in all was pretty solid for the Steelers. Adding new talent to the offensive line, youth to the linebacker corps, quick players on special teams, and some favorite veterans (especially McFadden) could give the Steelers a decent shot at Super Bowl ring #7. Only time will tell if these picks are a bust (sorry, Sweed) or brilliant.