Saturday, April 24, 2004

Steelers take Max Starks in the 3rd
Round 3
With the 75th pick the Steelers selected University of Florida offensive tackle Max Starks and by doing so concluded what seems to be at least on paper one of the most solid Steeler drafts in recent years. Starks is 6'7" 350 lbs. and played left tackle with the Gators. It's not clear whether this means that Marvel Smith will move back to right tackle or not (of course all of this is contingent on Starks winning a starting job), but at the very least the Steelers now have options along the offensive line (that don't include Todd Fordham).

Starks has quick feet, is a good athlete and a great pass-blocker. Some think he needs to be more physical at the line of scrimmage and work on his run-blocking. In some early mock drafts he was projected to be a late first rounder, but slipped due in part to weight problems and he struggled against speed rushers (but then who doesn't).

What's interesting is that only one other OT was taken between the Steelers 2nd and 3rd round picks (from pick 38 to pick 75) and that was Jacob Rogers (Dallas took him at 54).

Overall, the Steelers had a very successful day -- at least from a player personnel standpoint. They may have originally wanted Rivers but I'm guessing they were elated to have Roethlisberger fall in their lap at 11. Some might believe that Coclough would have been available with the 44th pick (the Steelers had to give up a 4th round pick to move up to 38), but it was a prudent move if they felt like he wouldn't last six more picks. Plus, any attempt by the front office to shore up the defensive backfield should be met with cheers.

Finally, Starks will provide some much needed depth along the offensive line after the departure of LT Wayne Gandy two seasons ago. Again, perhaps due to good fortune, Pittsburgh was able to land the OT they wanted with the 75th pick and have answered almost all of their 'big' question marks on the first day.

They still have to address some needs at linebacker (both inside and outside as they continue to try and get rid of Jason Gildon) and there has been speculation that they may take another CB tomorrow. Also don't be surprised if they get a WR before the end of the weekend.

After having some doubts about the 'Steeler war room,' I must say that Cowher and Colbert, all things considered, had a pretty good day. It seems the Steelers had a draft strategy going in and didn't deviate or panic when some of their top prospects were gone early. It will be interesting to see how tomorrow unfolds.

Check back tomorrow as I'll have commentary on rounds 5 - 7. Also, if you missed my commentary on the first two picks, check them out:

Round 1. Ben Roethlisberger

Round 2. Ricardo Cloclough