You don't win Super Bowls by drafting guys who you're willing to put in the lineup only if James Harrison signs with the Bengals. You win Super Bowls by drafting guys who are among the best in the league at their position, guys who you know will give you a match-up advantage in at least one discrete facet of the game. Foundational pieces. But hey, let's not set the bar too high. Let's just shoot for above-average pieces. The jury is still out on David DeCastro and Mike Adams. Otherwise, by my count, the Steelers have drafted and retained only two players who come close to meeting that description in the last five years: Maurkice Pouncey and Antonio Brown.
|Would put team on back, but can't put pressure on left ankle.|
So what will the Steelers do in Round 1 of tonight's NFL draft? It's obvious. Read on...
There are three essential criteria to consider in handicapping any Steelers draft.
1. Team needs
This is easy: OLB, ILB, CB, S, RB, WR, and probably TE. Maybe a backup QB. How many rounds is this draft?
2. Best Available Player
But forget the first criteria! Remember, the Steelers have a longstanding tradition of taking "the best player available regardless of position" in Round 1. They always do this, with very few exceptions (such as Greg Hawthorne, Mark Malone, Keith Gary, Walter Abercrombie, Gabe Rivera, Daryl Sims, John Rienstra, Aaron Jones, Tim Worley, Huey Richardson, Deon Figures, Charles Johnson, Jamain Stephens, Chad Scott, and Troy Edwards).
3. Best Available Name
This is an area where the Steelers really need to get back to the fundamentals. You can't draft a guy named Bruce Davis and expect him to step right in and contribute. Rod Woodson sounds like a Hall of Famer. Louis Lipps sounds like he will catch 15 touchdown passes in a single season. Brett Keisel sounds like he will grow a beard and show up for practice in a tractor.
With all of this in mind, let's look at who may be available when the Steelers pick at No. 17:
- Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame). Best tight end in the draft, and Big Money Heath Miller, one of the great Steeler No. 1 picks is down indefinitely. But all things being equal, bigger needs and better names elsewhere.
- Jarvis Jones, OLB (Georgia). What a need, and what a name! This is a fit. But odds are he's gone to the Saints at No. 15.
- Kenny Vaccaro, S (Texas). This is a reach I believe, based on nothing. The name isn't enough to make it worth our while.
- Eddie Lacy, RB (Alabama). Steelers-type back, but if Walter Abercrombie, Tim Worley, and Rashard Mendenhall have taught us anything, it's don't bet big on RBs in round 1. Not unless you're dealing with the cream of the crop. Lacy isn't that.
- Cordarelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee). Great "measurables." Big need. And really, could you have a better name? It's like "Kordell," interrupted. Like Darelle with an extra jolt. Like Corduroy with sex appeal. And tell me you don't want to hear Ben talk about Cordarelle. The reclamation of Steelers draft glory begins here.