2008 NFL Draft: Steelers Catch Falling Stars on Day One
Ben Roethlisberger must be smiling ear-to-ear right now.
Sure, the Steelers could have addressed their serious offensive line needs in the first two rounds.
Or, they could have selected a shutdown corner, which they have not had since Rod Woodson.
Perhaps solidifying the aging defensive line would have been smart.
But instead, the Steelers went into the draft with the mindset that every position needs help except quarterback and tight end. Those are the only two positions with star talent and depth locked in for the long term future.
The strategy paid off. Or, more accurately, impact players fell into their laps in both rounds.
Rashard Mendenhall was supposed to go in the mid-teens. He was supposed to be the second RB selected. Instead, he was the fourth, dropping all the way to the 23rd pick, where the Steelers sat gleefully.
But their luck did not end there. After wide receivers got shut out of the first round, teams began to start snatching them up. Donnie Avery to the Rams. Devin Thomas to the Redskins. Jordy Nelson to the Packers. Then it was James Hardy, Eddie Royal, Jerome Simpson, DeSean Jackson, and Malcolm Kelly. Wideouts were flying off the board.
Limas Sweed was still sitting there when the Steelers picked at 53. He doesn't have blazing speed, and the wrist injury in his senior season probably made some teams pass him up. But scouts think he has the talent to be a top receiver.
Let's run down the Steelers’ offensive weapons surrounding pro bowl QB Ben Roethlisberger: “Fast” Willie Parker, Mendenhall, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, and Limas Sweed. And let's not forget the incredibly talented TE duo of Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth.
Big Ben must be feeling like a kid at Christmas, with all these new toys to play with.
Rumors out of Pittsburgh are that the offense will sometimes line up Parker and Mendenhall at the same time in a pro-set formation. Tomlin, however, is unwilling to give Mendenhall anything.
"At this point, he's a young guy trying to fit in. He'll be backing up Parker."
Sweed, another young guy trying to fit in, should compliment the WR corps well.
Ward will function as the uber-tough possession receiver, Holmes is a burner and a deep threat, and Sweed will be the tall, physical receiver Ben requested in the offseason, helping tremendously in the red zone.
The Steelers were not planning on drafting either of these guys. But when they fell to them at the positions they did, there was no way they could pass these talents up.
Most likely, the offensive line will still struggle this year. No OL draft picks on day two will be able to help them this season. This will keep the Steelers from being a serious Super Bowl contender in 2008, but the offensive firepower they have in place should develop into the most star-studded Steelers offense since the days of Bradshaw, Bleier, Franco, Swanny, and Stallworth.
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