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The Steelers 2009 Draft vs. the Rest of the AFC North Division

PITTSBURGH - MAY 01:  Joe Burnett #40 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs a route during rookie training camp at the Pittsburgh Steelers Practice Facility on May 1, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Jim McMillenContributor IJune 21, 2009

The AFC North had an incredible draft. Lot’s of talent was added. The draft’s been graded and picked over and we will not be going over the "draft value" of the "draftees." We will instead be looking at players that were added and how they might benefit their respective teams.

The Potential Ratings are as follows:

5 – Star
4 – Starter/Major Contributor
3 – Contributor
2 – Roster Spot
1 – Practice Squad
0 – Washout

ST – Short Term
LT – Long Term

Let’s dive right in:

The Draft (AFC North Teams in draft order from last to first)

Round One:


No. 6 Andre Smith, OT, Alabama. So he did and said some stupid things at the combine and he doesn’t look good with his shirt off. But he can play the position and may be the most Pro-ready lineman in the draft.

At No. 6, I would have gone for one of the other OT’s that showed up to compete at the combine. But if he is not lazy and looking to win the lottery, he could be a force for years to come. 3.5 ST, 4.5 LT.


No. 21 Alex Mack, C, California. A player a lot of mock drafts had for the Steelers. The best of a really good center crop, should be the anchor and play caller for the Brown’s O-line. 3.5 ST, 4.5 LT.


No. 23 Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi. A book, a movie, and now a Raven? Well two out three’s not bad. Has character and talent, (should be a Steeler... oops.) he is an elite lineman for the hated Ravens. 3.5 ST, 4.5 LT.


No. 32 Ziggy (Don’t call me Evander) Hood, DE, Missouri. Not the typical flagon of ale-and-meat-off-the-bone Steeler-type D-lineman. Has strength and motor, but also is a technique guy and more than a little cagey.

Good lateral movement off the initial bump. Maybe a switch up for Lebeau’s front three? Will get some time this year and could develop into something special. 3.5 ST, 4.5 LT.

Round Two:


No. 36 Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State University. The most Pro-ready wide receiver in the draft. Excellent hands, intimidating route running and incredible adjustment to errant throws. Look for Robiskie to share time with Cribbs, who will probably play a lot of slot. 3.75 ST, 4.7 LT.


No. 38 Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC. Yeesh, pain in the ass alert. An incredible pick by the Bungals for once. An interior linebacker who can get to edge that quick? Won just about every award there was to win. 4.58/40? Why couldn’t this guy have gone to some NFC team? The Rams, maybe? 3.5 ST, 4.5 LT.


No. 50 Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Georgia. I guess the fear of losing Braylon Edwards can do strange things to you. A guy that couldn’t catch Matthew Stafford’s passes? Good luck in the NFL, pal. With Deon Butler, Derrick Williams, Mike Wallace and others available... why? Why? 2.0 ST, 2.75 LT.

Browns (Yes, the stinking Browns again)

No. 52 David Veikune, OLB, Hawaii. Mocker’s hated this pick. Screw those guys. If you think a guy can be an instant contributor in a position, you pick him. Veikune was relentless in college and will give the Browns a situational edge-rusher this season and a probable starter in the near future and beyond. 3.0 ST, 4.0 LT.


No. 57 Paul Kruger, DE, Utah. A situational pass rusher in a team of pass rushers. Will be bringing it from the edge when his number is called. 2.0 ST, 3.0 LT.


Zip, zero, nada, traded away. But we came roaring back in Round Three and the later rounds.

Round Three:


No. 70 Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech. The Bengals think they got something special here in a 6-7 guy with 4.6/40 speed. I don’t think so. He is sack happy, not fundamentally sound, gets blown away on run plays and double-teams and watches the game for long stretches of time. 1.75 ST, 2.5 LT.


No. 79 Kraig Urbik OT, Wisconsin. This is the Steelers “Oh crap! All the offensive linemen are almost gone!” pick. I think the Steelers thought there would be a lot of high quality OT’s left in this deep draft. They snagged the last one, not counting Jamon Meredith.

They flashed on angry Steeler Country Villagers with pitchforks and torches outside Heinz Field. As it is, Urbik is a great fit. A tough guy. He blows people off the line in run blocking and has potential to develop as a good pass blocker.

A lot of people have him projected as RG which he played out of necessity in college, but the Steelers website has him as OT. I expect him to find a spot at right tackle with Willie Colon kicking inside to his true RG position. There, Kraig will be getting help in space from Willie and the most underrated TE in the league, Heath Miller!. 3.5 ST, 4.5 LT.


No. 84 Mike Wallace WR/KR, Mississippi. A great pick. The Steelers snag a guy that nobody saw coming. Sub 4.3/40, developing good hands and route running. Now attending Holmes/Ward U. Will get coached up and become an immediate contributor as slot receiver and kick returner. Not the next Hines Ward, but maybe the first Mike Wallace. 3.6 ST, 4.7 LT.


No. 88 Ladarius Webb CB/KR, Nicholls State. Kicked out of Southern Miss for rules violation. Not a good sign. Good athlete, a bit small and skinny, but chippy. Quick and fast, ran 4.3/40 at the combine and runs coverage at times like he’s the WR. Could contribute as KR and nickel 'n dime back this year. Hard to judge guys playing against small college talent. Big boom or bust guy. 3.0 ST. 3.75 LT.


No. 96 Keenan Lewis CB, Oregon State. Ike Taylor’s brother from another mother if his college game translates to the NFL. By far the best blanket coverage CB coming out of the draft this year. Has softer hands than his brother Ike.

I’ve heard he has tackling problems, but his pursuit is relentless and he is now in the Tackling Pantheon of the NFL, I think he’ll get help on any shortcomings. If he can crack the starting lineup, things could be interesting this year with two blanket corners and Troy, Ryan, Deshea, William Gay or Joe Burnett ball-hawking in double coverage. 3.5 ST, 4.6 LT.


No. 98 Chase Coffman TE, Missouri. Big with good hands and no hesitation getting off the line. Questionable blocking skills, but Carson Palmer will enjoy the target: a 6-6 guy across the middle. Could be a future starter if he can handle the NFL pass rush, especially the Ravens and the Steelers. 2.75 ST, 3.75 LT.

Round Four:


No. 104 Kaluka Maiava ILB/ST USC. Yeesh, part deux. Another USC linebacker, undersized yes, but with a huge chip on his shoulder because he couldn’t start most of his college career in the face of the Cushing, Matthews and Malaluga confederacy. Look for him to stick and become a major pain at first on special teams and then get sub time on the defense. 3.0 ST, 3.75 LT.


No. 106 Jonathon Luigs C, Arkansas. The Bengals gave up on last year's center, Eric Ghiaciuc, dubbed GeeYaSuck by the Bengals faithfuls. Luigs has a chance to be a first-year starter. Yes, he has short arms. But Joe Montana didn’t have an NFL arm either. Certain guys are football players and I think Luigs is one of those guys. 3.75 ST, 4.0 LT.

No Steelers or Ravens this Round.

Round Five:


No. 137 Jason Phillips ILB, TCU. Undersized and a little stiff, but tough. The Ravens don’t draft defensive guys that are not tough. Will probably not be a starter, but will contribute, first on special teams. 2.5 ST, 3.25 LT.


No. 142 Kevin Huber P, Cincinnati. A punter. A damned good one. 4.0 ST, 4.25 LT.


No. 149 Davon Drew TE, East Carolina, Former QB. Good athlete with good hands. Knows route running from QB background. 4.6/40. Maybe, not so good as a blocker. Not Todd Heap’s ultimate replacement but will contribute. 2.0 ST, 3.25 LT.


No. 168 Joe Burnett CB/KR, Central Florida. Short but strong with great leaping ability. A ball hawk. Gives receivers a pad and comes back to burn them. Will be a nickel and dime guy to begin with. Not as fast as a kick returner, but a burst runner that knows how to follow and direct blocks. Will get a chance to line up opposite Mike Wallace on kickoffs and go solo on punt returns. I had him at this round in my mock. He’s got a great Myron Cope name too. “Ohh! What a play by Joe Burnett, of the Pittsburgh Steelers!” 3.0 ST, 4.0 LT.


No. 169 Frank “The Tank” Summers RB, UNLV. Had him as a Sixth Round pick in my mock. Began as what used to be called a fullback (when fullbacks could actually be given the ball so they could RUN!). Who decided we would relegate one of the biggest production and possession positions in the history of the NFL to a minimal support role? It’s Stoopit! With a capitol, S-T-O-O-P-I-T!

The Tank has a low center, a great burst though the line, good feet and lateral movement behind the blockers and he likes to hit and drag people with him at the end of the play. He can also catch out of the backfield. If our linemen can give him some love, look for him to kick it. He likes to block, too. 3.0 ST, 4.25 LT.

No Browns Pick this Round.

Round Six:


No. 177 Don Carey CB, Norfolk State. A practice squad player in his first year. May make the team in the second. 1.0 ST. 2.0 LT.


No. 179 Morgan Trent CB, Michigan. Practice squad to potential roster maker. 1.5 ST, 2.5 LT.


No. 185 Cedric Peerman RB/KR, Virginia. Great pick to end a strong Raven’s draft. Quick and strong runner at 5-10, 215. Has the potential to contribute immediately as a KR and situational spark RB. 2.9 ST, 3.4 LT.


No. 191 Coye Francies CB, San Jose State. Gun charges that were later dropped. Kicked off Oregon State’s team. Future Bengal, Raider or Jailbird. Could Roger Goodell please clean all the thugs out of the NFL? They have no place there. And yes, all NFL players are roll models. 1.0 ST, 0.0 LT.


No. 195 James Davis RB, Clemson. Good Player that suffered like the rest of the Clemson team because Cullen Harper sucked. Good speed and overlooked. Will contribute. The Browns end strong in a good draft. 2.0 ST, 3.0 LT.


No. 205 Ra’Shon Harris DT, Oregon. I hate to question the Steelers here, but do we really need a practice squad DL here? What about another WR for Ben, or an offensive lineman? Aaron Kelly, Kevin Ogletree, Sammy Sloughter, Tiquan Underwood were WR’s still available.

Trevor Canfield got a bad rep for hitting a guy with a beer bottle, but he looked almost as good as Kraig U. at guard. Nobody on his team or his coaches thought he had character problems and now he is a member of the Hated Whisenhunt Steelers West.

Young people do stupid things and that’s OK as long as they don’t do them with guns. OT’s Gerald Cadogan and the fast and intriguing Lydon Murtha were also available. 1.0 ST, 2.5 LT.


No. 209 Bernard Scott RB, Abilene Christian. Has talent, but is a career criminal with five run-ins with the law. Prototypical Bengals player. Why is this guy even allowed to enter the NFL? 1.75 ST, 0.0 LT.


No. 215 Fui Vakapuna RB, BYU. Another fullback. Say it loud and say it proud, FULLBACK! No quickness or lateral movement, but a brawler. An immediate contributor in blocking and on short yardage with a great attitude. 3.0 ST, 3.0 LT.

Round Seven:


No. 226 A.Q. Shipley C, Penn State. He’s too short. His arms are not long enough. He will not be able to handle NFL defensive tackles. Willie Parker should never have been an NFL RB. And yaddah, yaddah, yah.

Fast (for a center) at 5.2/40. Strong at 33/225 lb. bench press. Mean and tough and lives football. The Steelers think he can be the next Mike Webster. Like Luigs for the Bengals, I think Shipley is a future starter and maybe more. 2.0 ST, 4.0 LT.


No. 241 David Johnson TE, Arkansas State. Good blocking skills and 16 yards per reception. He’s a talented guy that will compete with Sean McHugh. I am not a real big fan of the H-Back/Tight End position, but maybe that’s because it has seemed pretty ineffective during the Arians tenure.

I would have preferred another OL or WR, but not much to complain about because of his receiving and blocking skills. The Steelers end their great draft with an intriguing pick that could pay off. 1.75 ST, 2.75 LT.


No. 249 Clinton McDonald DE, Memphis. 4.8/40 and 36/225 lb. bench press. Very good athlete. Undersized at 6-2, 289. Projects as a special teams contributor and situational pass rusher. 1.75 ST, 3.0 LT.


No. 252 Freddie Brown WR, Utah. Big at 6-3 with good leaping ability. Put up good numbers at Utah. Questionable hands. Will get a chance to stick due to Who’sYourMamma’s defection and Chad 85’s make-believe boxing career. 1.5 ST, 2.25 LT.

The Draft Postscript

Okay, so that’s the AFC North Draft. You can total it up if you want to, but that’s not really the point. All of these teams are starting from a different position of need. They are all looking for pieces to solve their particular puzzle. I think there was success all around.

So, congratulations to all.

The Steeler Way

One of the things I haven’t emphasized much is that all of the Steeler draft selections have high marks in one or more of the following categories: intelligence, toughness, football I.Q., character, work ethic and respect from the team, coaches, family and community.

These are the intangibles that some of the other AFC North teams don’t seem to value in all their picks or values they think they can coach. I think these things are more important than measurable and there are stories every other week to back this up. The Steelers routinely avoid or ship the low character guys.

Now back to our draft. We have added a number of potential starters, major contributors or maybe, just maybe, stars. If nothing else we’ve added some Steelers. That’s good enough for now.

I will report again on the new talent in August after attending the Steelers first Exhibition Game against the Arid Zone’s Cardinals and the two Biggest Chip Shoulder Coaches Ken and Russ. Sorry that you guys didn’t get picked, but you’re enemies now. Football enemies, not real enemies, like Al-Qaeda or something… not quite that bad…yet.

Go Stillers!

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