Thursday, April 22, 2004

Pittsburgh draft news
With the draft only two days away, people are coming out of the woodwork to offer their opinions, insight and advice. Here are a couple of articles from the Pittsburgh papers that caught my eye.

Take the best available athlete
If that means not taking Philip Rivers then that's my mantra too. Actually, Guy Junker writes that while enticing because of their potential, players with questionable mecnanics (Rivers) or questionable work ethic (OT Shawn Andrews) should be overlooked in the first round because it's such an important pick. He is effectively advocating that the Steelers should take either cornerback DeAngelo Hall or Dunta Robinson because they are both fast, athletic and have strong cover skills.

Of course the argument can be made that if the Steelers are drafting based on output, Rivers might still be the best available players -- and I can't really dispute that. Especially when you consider that if Rivers had the mechanics of Kerry Collins he might be the highest rated (or at least neck-and-neck with Eli Manning) QB in the draft. But his mecahnics are more than just cosmetic. If you're in the pocket and need to dump the ball off to your third or fourth receiver it becomes very difficult when a defensive line that averages 6'5" is matched up against a QB who is now effectively 6'0".

And that's the point Junker is making -- and one I tend to agree with.

Mark Madden: "Start Rivers!"
Mark Madden, with sage-like advice from Chris Mortensen, thinks that if the Steelers draft Rivers they should start him immediately for the following silly reasons:
Rivers started 51 games for the Wolfpack, a college football record. Considering his stellar performance there, it would be folly to break that kind of momentum...

The Ryan Leaf exception duly noted, quarterbacks drafted in the first round usually have intelligence and leadership abilities to match their athleticism...

Maddox, ironically, was a first-round washout. He had one great, adrenaline-driven season in 2002 when he beat out Stewart. (By the way, what took Maddox so long?) But last year, when the adrenaline dissipated and his line collapsed, Maddox often played like a once and future insurance salesman...

That doesn't mean Maddox is terrible. But it does mean his upside is minimal. To bench Rivers -- to break the momentum Rivers built up at N.C. State by starting 51 games -- for the sake of starting Maddox one more year would be ludicrous.
Let's see, where to start. Since when do you start someone so as not to break their streak of consecutive games played? Are we drafting Cal Ripken? If Rivers sits for a year, will he be a worse player? Even if the Steelers draft Rivers and are still able to adequately address the CB and OT positions, they should be very competitve next season. And if they are competitive it makes little sense to start Rivers immediately -- that effectively negates any improvements made in other areas because you're now having a QB going through growing pains while the rest of the team is running on all cylinders (or as close as this team can get).

Now, concerning the "...quarterbacks drafted in the first round usually have intelligence and leadership..." comment, might I direct you to the following first round QBs (courtesy of Akili Smith, Jim Druckenmiller, Heath Shuler, Rick Mirer, David Klingler, Todd Marinovich and Andre Ware. Some of these guys are probably intelligent but none of them were leaders on the football field and they were all first round picks, so that argument doesn't work here. Now if he had said, "...quarterbacks drafted in the first round usually get arrested (Druckenmiller, Marinovich), are really overrated (Klingler, Ware) or just stink (Smith, Shuler, Mirer)..." then it might have worked. Of course I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the point.

Madden seems to think that Maddox has already enjoyed his 15 minutes and will only get worse (or at least get no better). He knows as well as everyone else that if the Steelers get a competent RT to go with newly acquired Duce Staley, this team will more closely resemble the '02 team than the '03 team -- and that includes the play of Maddox. But of course if Madden doesn't make disparaging remarks then he's not being Madden.