2010 NFL Draft: Santonio Holmes Trade Has Steelers Thinking Receiver

Brian CarsonCorrespondent IApril 12, 2010

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 27:  Santonio Holmes #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stiff arms Dawan Landry #26 of the Baltimore Ravens on December 27, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Steelers were heading into the 2010 NFL Draft with their focus away from the wide receiver position.

And for good reason.

Pittsburgh already had Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, and Mike Wallace in the fold, and locked up Arnaz Battle and Antwaan Randle-El in free agency.

Receiver just wasn’t much of a concern to the franchise.

Until now.

Thanks to Holmes, aka "Mr. Wake n' Bake ," things have changed.

As if his legal problem in Florida wasn't enough of a distraction, reports surfaced that Holmes is facing a possible four-game suspension under the league's substance abuse policy.

Under NFL policy, a four-game suspension comes only after multiple violations. The Steelers suspended Holmes for one game during the 2008 season for his indictment on marijuana charges.

The Steelers finally had enough of Holmes' shenanigans, trading him last night to the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick in this year's draft.

The situation at receiver has changed dramatically for Pittsburgh.

Wallace is capable of jumping up to No. 2 and starting with Ward, but Battle or Randle-El as a No. 3?

I don't think so.

Both receivers were brought in for special teams help and to fight for the fourth receiver spot, which is a good fit for them. Neither player is a legitimate three anymore.

How about Limas Sweed?

Unless the NFL allows Stick-em back in the league, you won't see him anywhere near the field on game day.

The Steelers front office already knew about Holmes' possible suspension and were talking to other teams to move him, which explains why four receivers were among their contingent of draft-eligible invites.

It's also possible to read too much into this.

Teams bring players in all the time as a smoke screen to cover up who they really want. Out of 30 possible invites, there may be three or four a franchise will try to draft.

If the Steelers go after a wide receiver, and they should, who will they target and when will they take him?

It won't be in the first round. That's for sure.

Pittsburgh will go offensive line or corner in Round One. The need at either position is too great to pass up.

You can eliminate Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant from the list. The Steelers won't touch anybody in this draft with any kind of character issues. Not this season. Not for a long while.

With Bryant being the only receiver with a first-round grade, Pittsburgh has a slew of choices.

Here are five the Steelers may target after round one:

Golden Tate, Notre Dame

Tate is projected as a second-rounder by most scouts and so-called draft experts. Some have him sneaking into the first to a team desperate for a receiver, like the Titans or Jaguars.

The 5-foot-10, 199-pound prospect is very quick, as evidenced by his 4.42 40-yard dash, and possesses decent hands. He played all over the place for the Irish and has extra value because of his return ability on special teams.

He'll most likely be gone before the Steelers pick in the second round, but if he's still on the board when they pick at 52, Tate could end up wearing the black and gold.

Arrelious Benn, Illinois

Benn has nice size (6-foot-1, 219 pounds), good enough speed (4.57), and isn't afraid to go over the middle and take a hit to get the catch. He's a prototype possession receiver who will catch the ball underneath and get you a first down.

Benn is stiff at times and needs to get better running his routes, but the potential for good things is there.

Brandon LeFell, LSU

If LaFell can get his head together he could be an under-the-radar gem in this draft.

Cut from the same cloth as Benn, LaFell is big (6-foot-3, 211 pounds) with excellent leaping ability and decent speed (4.58). He should develop into a very effective receiver in the short passing game.

He has very soft hands, but drops passes that should easily be caught.

The knock on LaFell is his lack of concentration. If he can learn to focus better, the sky is the limit on his abilities.

Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech

A definite project with amazing ability and potential. Thomas is one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire draft.

He averaged 25 yards per catch on a team that ran the option, but he broke his foot in February and hasn't been able to workout in the combine drills.

Scouts are in love with his measurables. He stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 224 pounds, with a 4.52 in the 40.

Thomas' stock is rising fast and some teams will roll the dice and take him in the second or third round.

Maybe Pittsburgh will be that team?

Emmanuel Sanders, SMU

Sanders isn't very big (5-foot-11, 186 pounds), but he makes things happen with the ball in his hands.

The Mustangs' all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns was under the radar until recently because of the program's lack of success.

Under coach June Jones, a former NFL quarterback, Sanders excelled. He had 98 catches for 1,139 yards and seven scores, earning All-Conference USA honors last season.

His play during the East-West Shrine Game and excellent Combine (4.4 in the 40) cemented his status as a mid- to late-round pick.

Sanders could be an interesting selection to pair with Wallace, another speedster who loves the deep ball, in three- and four-receiver sets.

Pittsburgh had Sanders in for a pre-draft visit this past week and might consider using a mid-round selection on him.

Could the Steelers catch lightning in a bottle once again like they did with Wallace last year?

It's a strong possibility in this very deep and talent-laden 2010 draft.


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