Well, Nate Washington is gone from Pittsburgh. He recently left the defending Super Bowl Champions to play for the Tennessee Titans. Which is a little surprising since he had a good thing going in Pittsburgh and, at least in my mind, is not good enough to be a No. 1 receiver in the league yet.
But that is behind the Steelers now and they must look to the future and try to find Washington's replacement at the No. 3 receiver position. And currently, Limas Sweed is not good enough. At least not yet.
The move by Nate Washington leaves me to wonder if it will impact the Steelers' 2009 draft selections after the first round.
Obviously with all the offensive line problems the team had this past season, they will take an O-lineman in the first round. But what will they do with their later round picks?
I think they should use this pick to find a replacement for Washington. And with a large number of good wide receivers in this year's draft, it shouldn't be hard to find a suitable guy to take his place.
So who could they get?
Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
Hakeem Nicks' size is one big advantage that he has over many smaller defensive backs. He stands 6'2" tall and weighs in at 212 lbs. His hands are large as well, 10-1/2" from thumb to pinky.
Nicks' has average but good speed. He ran a 4.49 at the combine. He has great quickness off the snap, which could be good considering the Steelers do a lot of short passing and the few deep throws they do go to Santonio Holmes.
He produced record numbers while at North Carolina, breaking several of the school's single season receiving marks. His best year was in 2008, when he caught 68 passes for 1,222 yards and 12 touchdowns. Over his entire collegiate career, Nicks had 181 receptions for 2,840 yards and 21 TDs.
Nicks strained a hamstring at the combine and did not finish all of his events there. Some project him to go in the late first round, other say early to mid second round, and I've also seen some say he would be a late second to third round pick.
So for the Steelers to have a shot at Nicks, he would have to fall a lot of picks or they could move up in the draft order to get him, and they'd almost certainly have to get him with their first or second pick. He's a long shot to go to Pittsburgh at all, but there is a small possibility and I can still hope.
Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma
Iglesias played extremely well at Oklahoma catching passes from Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford. And despite having some other great players around him, like Malcolm Kelly and Jermaine Gresham, he still led the team in receptions and receiving yards in both 2007 and 2008.
Iglesias is much more of a possession receiver than a big play touchdown scorer. He also doesn't really have the size to be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. And these things will probably cause him to fall into the second or third round depending on when other receivers go.
But he is still a good wide receiver. He has good quickness and good route-running abilities that allow him to gain separation from defenders and get open faster.
His stats show his great ability even more. In 2008, he caught 74 passes for 1,150 yards and 10 touchdowns, leading Oklahoma receivers in many receiving categories. Over his whole collegiate career, Juaquin Iglesias had 202 catches, 2,861 yards, and 19 TDs.
Some people have him going in the mid to late second round or even early third round. The place he's picked will have a lot to do with when other guys go and how many WRs go in the first round. If Nicks isn't around and he still is at the end of the second round, the Steelers should look into picking him.
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Georgia
Mohammed Massaquoi flew under the radar for most of the 2008 season with so many other superstars playing for Georgia like Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, and A.J. Green.
He has relatively good size for a wideout, standing 6'2" and weighing 210 lbs. His 36-1/2" vertical, long arms, and good body control make it even easier for him to go up and get the tough catches.
He ran a 4.62 in the 40, which is a little slow when you look at some of the other receivers in the draft, but he was one of the top performers in the broad jump with a jump of 10'7".
Despite some of his ups and downs, his stats are very good for a player who was overshadowed by a guy like A.J. Green.
In 2008, Massaquoi caught 58 passes for 920 yards and eight touchdowns, which are pretty good numbers for a secondary target. Over his four-year career at Georgia, Massaquoi caught 158 passes for 2,282 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Massaquoi seems like much more of a possibility for the Steelers, with some saying he could go in the second to third round in the draft. If he falls far enough, Pittsburgh could use their third round pick to snag Massaquoi.
The Steelers have a gap in the receiving core left by Nate Washington, and any one of these guys could fill it well in my mind.
Nicks, unfortunately, is a bit of a stretch, but a small possibility. Iglesias would have to be grabbed in the second round if he fell far enough. But I think Massaquoi is a distinct possibility for the Steelers in the third round.
Plus, you never really know what the Steelers are going to do. Just look at the 2008 draft, first pick Rashard Mendenhall. Never saw that coming. I look forward to seeing what they will do this year to surprise me.
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