Draft Day Blues

Every year I get so excited for the draft. I read everything I can get my hands on, stalk Mel Kiper, obsess over team needs and make guesses about every pick. During and after the draft I am the most optimistic Steelers’ fan in the world. In my mind Omar Jacobs was just like Vince Young except he played at a smaller school and Fred Gibson was the answer to Plaxico leaving. The draft is such a day of optimism (assuming you aren’t a Browns fan, look at from 1999 on, just brutal) as well as the only real football news between the Super Bowl and the opening of mini-camps. I usually look at the Friday before the draft like Christmas Eve. Just get it over with and get to the next day so I can open my presents!

But this year has been different. I have had trouble getting too excited about it. I still read every mock draft that I can get my hands on and scrutinize every player Todd McShay says the Steelers might take, but I haven’t been nearly as obsessive about it. Maybe I’m too busy at work, but I think it has more to do with the weakness of the draft this year. At the Steelers' pick there is nobody I am really excited about. Last year we were predicted to draft a receiver from my favorite college team which was exciting and when we actually moved up to draft Santonio I was thrilled. It is so much fun to follow a player from his freshman year through the college years and into the league. Well, at least until he starts dropping punts and fumbling the ball every time… No, no. I’m staying positive.

I seriously doubt Pittsburgh is going to be calling Teddy Ginn or any other Buckeye on the first day. It looks like its cornerback, an O/D lineman or a hybrid player who can play outside linebacker until we make the switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3 where the player will be an end. I trust Kevin Colbert and staff greatly. I imagine Tomlin will step aside his first year and trust his more experienced front office. I am confident that the Steelers will produce a solid draft and I hope we will get value out of the middle rounds. It's just that when you look back to 1997 and every year except maybe Kendall Simmons year I was so excited about our first round pick:

2006 Santonio Holmes WR Ohio State
2005 Heath Miller TE Virginia
2004 Ben Roethlisberger QB Miami (OH)
2003 Troy Polomalu S USC
2002 Kendall Simmons OL Auburn
2001 Casey Hampton DT Texas
2000 Plaxico Burress WR Michigan St.
1999 Troy Edwards WR LA Tech
1998 Alan Faneca G LSU
1997 Chad Scott DB Maryland

Some worked and some didn’t but I thought they all were going to be superstars. I really don’t feel that way this year but I hope I’m wrong.

In the end I hope with the number 15 pick in the 2007 Draft the Pittsburgh Steelers select Darrelle Revis from Pittsburgh, just for Mario. It is fun to get watch a player develop from college and the Steelers can use the cornerback help. If you can grab one of the two best cornerbacks in the draft at a position of need you have to do it, right?

Sorry Ike (possibly my favorite web site ever)!


Is Faneca On His Way Out?

John Clayton is reporting that Alan Faneca wants a trade out of town on Saturday. He is both unhappy with his contract (only one year left) as well as the fact that Russ Grimm was passed over for Head Coach and the way that Grimm’s departure was allegedly handled. Faneca has been one of the best linemen in the league at any position for years. I thought he had an off year last year, but so did a bunch of other guys on the team. He hasn’t always been thrilled with the team but he has always been the anchor of that line. I certainly hope the Steelers are able to sign him to a long term deal and allow him to retire a Steeler, but past history tells us that won’t happen. At the very least I hope that he plays through this season and leaves on good terms. But this issue leads me to another point

It says a lot about the draft this year that with Alan Faneca wanting a trade my biggest fear is that the Steelers will try and move up in the draft. The upper levels of the draft seem to be minefields that can cripple a team for years. Look at the Browns and the issues they have had at the top of the draft with Tim Couch, Courtney Brown, et al. When a high level draft pick busts it can hurt the cap for many years and it can become a cycle. Even if the pick is a success, the rookies make far too much guaranteed money which lowers the value of almost any contribution they make. It is getting close to teams being penalized in the draft process for finishing poorly. There is talent throughout the first round but those high picks make so much more than the 18th or 25th pick. With that in mind, why wouldn’t the Steelers trade down (assuming they can), sign the sure thing Faneca to a long term deal with a $10 million signing bonus and get what they can out of him rather than sink that same money into an untested rookie in the draft.

I think Colbert has done a great job in the draft but this year we will see how much was him and how much was Cowher. It will be a real test for the organization and we won’t know how it has worked out for years. But no matter what, I hope there is a happy ending for the Faneca story, either with Steelers or with the Steelers getting value in return from him and Faneca being happy somewhere else. He deserves at least that.

YouTube Clip of the Week

In what we hope will become a regular thing here at IWIWAR, here's this week's YouTube Clip of the Week. It features our new starting outside linebacker, James Harrison, a.k.a. Silverback. One of his most memorable on-field actions of the past two years has been in 2005 when he bodyslammed the Browns fan who ran onto the field during a game. But for me, my personal fave is this one - I love Joey Porter, but I don't even know if J-Peezy has these kind of skills.