Friday, April 23, 2004

The Eli Manning effect
So now that Eli Manning, through his father Archie, has proclaimed his unwillingness to be a Charger, what does this all mean for tomorrow's draft -- especially if you're a Steelers fan? There is already speculation that the Steelers might try to trade up to ensure they get Rivers. The only problem is they will have to really trade up to get him. Let's make a few assumptions and then move forward with what the Steelers view as possibilities.

First, let's assume that San Diego swaps picks with the Giants. Now the Giants will have the first overall pick and the Chargers will pick fourth. Now if this happens, we're pretty much assured that the Giants will take Manning with the first pick. Barring any other deals, the following players will probably be drafted with the next nine picks (in random order here): Gallery, Fitzgerald, R. Williams, P. Rivers, K. Winslow, S. Taylor, D. Hall, K. Udeze and B. Roethlisberger.

This is a blessing (not even in disguise -- I think it's obvious to everyone) for the Chargers. They'll be able to take Rivers with the 4th pick, collect some much needed draft picks -- and maybe even Ike Hilliard -- and still get the quarterback they wanted in the first place, Philip Rivers.

The problem for the Steelers, who have (not so) secretly coveted Rivers is that now they may have to: (a) trade up to get Rivers, (b) draft a CB or, (c) trade down and get an O-lineman. Actually, I don't really consider this much of a problem. It will be too expensive for them to trade up so that is probably not likely and depending on what happens, Roethlisberger may be around when Pittsburgh selects (although I still think I'm in favor of getting a CB). But if Roethlisberger's gone, then the teams ahead of them have made Pittsburgh's job easy. Fate has intervened and even though a QB may not be in the Steelers first round future, that ain't necessarily a bad thing. The Steelers still need desperate help on the defensive side of the ball and they may even take two CBs in tomorrow's draft.

And as along as I'm talking about CBs, it's amazing how Chad Scott has escaped ridicule as one of the most ineffective CBs in the league (he certainly rivaled D. Washington on the Steelers) while it's theorized that Tommy Maddox is so far removed from his 2002 season that he will be selling insurance by October.

After O-line, CB is the most important position need on this team -- well ahead of any QB needs -- and solidifying that position will take a lot of pressure off of the D-line (to get sacks), as well as an offense that hopefully will revitalize the running game. Look, I haven't watched one second of tape on any of the QB prospects, but I do know this. QBs are often overvalued -- especially as first round picks -- and what's more important is getting someone who is not necessarily spectacular, but instead is both capable and consistent.

Let's hope all three QBs are gone by the time the Steelers pick and that D. Hall or D. Robinson are still on the board. In my mind, that would be a good start to the 2004 season.