Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Draft Review: Sizing Up the Additions
There will be no grades, no snarky criticism, no prognosticating on players that I have never seen play the game of football. I'll save that for the blowhards on various forms of media that don't watch much college football and yet seem to know everything about players from Division III schools who ran a nice 40-yard dash in a pair of shorts in a dome in Indianapolis in February...but I digress.
Let's see how the lucky draftees might fit into the roster next season and how well the Steelers addressed their needs through the draft.
Evander "Ziggy" Hood - DT, Missouri - 6'3", 300 - Round One
Some expected an offensive lineman with the first round pick, but as was mentioned in this column pre-draft, depth was the key this year. Ziggy will have time to learn the "five-technique" from the Steelers' veteran defensive linemen and will have expectations on him to take over a starting role by 2010.
Ra'Shon Harris - DT, Oregon - 6'4", 298 - Round Six
He only started one year at Oregon, so hopefully the athleticism that he showed at the Shrine Game will allow him to ramp up more quickly at this level.
Kraig Urbik - OT, Wisconsin - 6'5", 328 - Round Three
Their first pick of Day Two after moving out of the bottom of Round Two is a throwback. While not the most athletic player at his position, he is aggressive and his versatility should pay off, allowing him to be plugged in at several spots along the line.
A.Q. Shipley - C, Penn State - 6'1", 304 - Round Seven
While he does not have ideal size, the scouts like his footwork and overall ability. The Steelers make this pick simply to add some depth to a unit that needs it.
Keenan Lewis - CB, Oregon State - 6'0", 208 - Round Three
Lewis made 48 of a possible 50 starts at Oregon State, and there is no substitute for that kind of experience. It showed during his impressive Senior Week, and you can expect to see him on the field often next season.
Joe Burnett - CB, Central Florida - 5'9", 192 - Round Five
It generally raises a red flag when a player is smaller than the writer of this article, but Burnett's role will be as a ball-hawk in nickel and dime packages to start, something scouts say he does very, very well.
Mike Wallace - WR, Mississippi - 6'0", 199 - Round Three
A childhood friend of Keenan Lewis', Wallace will step in as one of the fastest players on the team (4.33 40-yard dash) and will battle with Limas Sweed to fill the void left open by Nate Washington's departure.
Frank Summers - RB, UNLV - 5'9", 241 - Round Five
After the highly publicized short yardage issues the Steelers experienced last year, they released Gary Russell and drafted a specialist. Summers' compact build should deliver punishing blocks and goal-line touchdowns. He also gets the official fantasy football sleeper pick of this team's draft.
David Johnson - TE, Arkansas State - 6'2", 260 - Round Seven
Johnson is here almost exclusively for his blocking ability. He will not be catching many passes unless he lines up at H-Back often, which is not completely out of the question. The one thing this pick could signify is the Steelers' concern about their ability to re-sign Heath Miller next offseason.
It appears I prefaced this year’s draft correctly, as the Steelers went for depth above all else. They have shown continued commitment in getting this team younger, as they jettisoned veteran LB Larry Foote to make way for Lawrence Timmons in a starting role, so expect Ziggy Hood et al to be pushing the veterans for a starting job in the near future.
Clearly, the team hopes that all the selections make immediate impacts, but much of this year’s class will be waiting in line to get their chance in 2010 or beyond. For now, they should remain humble, and maybe they can earn their first championship rings as backups...
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