Friday, April 02, 2004

Steeler Draft News
The Tribune-Review's Chris Kucharski has a weekly emailbag and here are a couple of Q & A's that caught my eye:

Q: Do you think the Steelers will sign Kendrell Bell or Plaxico Burress over the summer because usually that's what they do on walk years for future free agents.

Chris: ...The Steelers like to get players signed the off-season before their last season under contract. They are both interesting scenarios.

Bell was the defensive rookie of the year his rookie season but the Steelers are convinced he is not a three-down linebacker. So, do you give big bucks to a part-time player. Well, it depends on what you call big bucks. Bell is young and the Steelers are likely to offer a signing bonus consistent with the ones they have paid out the best several off-seasons - somewhere between $5-6 million. The problem is the NFL has changed over the past couple years and that size bonus doesn't have the impact it did when the Steelers signed Joey Porter and Alan Faneca. You have to wonder if Bell will settle for that type of bonus.

The Burress situation is even more complicated. Plax and his representation feel he can be a No. 1 receiver in this league but the problem is he is second to Hines Ward on the Steelers. Again, if Burress is willing to take around a $5 million signing bonus, the Steelers will gladly sign him. But I have a feeling he is going to want Laveranues Coles type signing bonus of around $13 million. Even if the Steelers come to an agreement with Burress, you better be prepared to offer Hines Ward even more when his contract expires after 2005 or risk losing him. What it might come down to is which receiver do the Steelers want more. Ward would appear to be the obvious answer because Burress is only a year younger and Ward is a proven Pro-bowler while the P word (Potential) is associated with Plax.

The Steelers might already know what they want to do with both of these players and could be drafting now to replace them for 2005. Keep an eye on negotiations this summer.

Q: You said a few weeks ago that you thought Ben would fall to us at 11. If this happens what do you think they will do? They need a corner before a quarterback. But will they let Ben fall past them?

Chris: I have been pondering this question for the past couple weeks Bob, so I think it is time for me to stop riding the fence.
If Roethlisberger is there at No. 11 and I can't trade down, I take him. This is a big gamble because he could be the next Peyton Manning or the next Ryan Leaf.

I just can't justify taking one of the cornerbacks or one of the tackles, the Steelers two biggest needs, with this pick. With the NFL Draft, it is about value. So, I think Roethlisberger is worth the chance. Granted, this will have no effect on this year's team and it is against my philosophy about QBs in the draft, but I really like Roethlisberger, even more than Eli Manning.

Also, if the Steelers draft a cornerback, he probably won't see the field anyway even when Chad Scott gets burned (Yes, this is the cynical side of me).

With that said, I still don't think Roethlisberger will be available when the Steelers draft at No. 11. Some team will trade up to get him.