Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Draft Stuff and the Red Stapler

Okay, you guys are killing me with the Milton Waddams references. And I was just getting ready to write about how much I like Stephen Root ... then I read Randy's comment.

Honestly, Root is a freakin' genius. In addition to Waddams and Jimmy James, Root's also William Fontaine De La Tour D'auterive and Buck Strickland on "King of the Hill." Yeah, he's that talented.

Anyway, I still haven't watched the Senior Bowl -- it's staring at me right now from the DVR -- but Finnegans Wake makes a nice point about the draft in general and Ike Taylor specifically:
Ike's a one-trick pony, IMO, but could regain his starter spot for a year or two, and should do so. He's solid against Chad Johnson and guys who run deep out patterns, but you put him on a guy running a shorter route, a dig, a sideliner, and Ike gets beaten up. He's not shifty-nimble. And he appears mentally maxed. I like Ike, but not as much as I used to. He's too up and down, and might be best as a placeholder for a true lockdown corner. Now, maybe if Tomlin uses more a 3-4 front with a Cover 2 backcourt, Ike will improve by getting some bump at the line, not part of our current Cover 3 scheme. But then you lose having Troy roving up with the boys in the front 7, doing what Troy does best. Maybe we hybridize things and run Cover 2/Tampa 2 more on passing downs and punch 'em in the face, I dunno.
You know, this is a very good observation. Part of the problem is the scheme. When the Steelers run Cover-3, the cornerbacks can't be too aggressive. That's why you're yelling at your teevee everytime T.J. Houshmazilly (put it on the board!) catches a 8-yard slant and goes for 25.

I love Ike, and I hate having to agree with Finnegan's assessment, but it reflects Ike's struggles last year. Of course, it doesn't explain why he played so well in 2005 ... and (I think DJ wrote this some time back) there's no correlation between passing DVOA from one year to the next, so it's not fair to just say Ike all of a sudden sucks.

Either way, if the Steelers take a CB with the 15th pick, fine by me. I'd also be okay with LT Levi Brown (who apparently played well enough last weekend to move up into the top-10 conversation, or a defensive end. I'd even say middle linebacker here, but it sounds like Patrick Willis didn't have a great game and, who knows, he might slip to the middle of the second round. (Remember, D'Qwell Jackson, arguably the best MLB in last year's draft, wasn't taken until early in the second. Other than Ray-Ray -- who probably threatened to kill somebody if he didn't go early -- not very many MLBs are first-round picks.)

I like cornerbacks early because you can never have enough good ones. I'm not as down on Ricardo Colclough as some people -- and he played pretty well defensively before Cowher killed his confidence ... maybe forever in the Cincy game -- but if the Steelers landed another Bryant McFadden to go along with the original B-Mac, Ike, Dime back Deshea, and (maybe a healthy) Colclough ... well, that's a good thing.

And overall, I agree with Eric -- this team was a few breaks and some really shitty/untimely quarterback play from winning nine or ten games. But they didn't. They only won eight. And some of that has to do with inconsistencies along the offensive line, the secondary, sporadic pass rush and Mr. Roethlisberger. A lot of it had to do with atrocious special teams. Return and coverage.

By the way, there's speculation that Willie Reid's injury was close to being a Lisfranc. Since I'm not a doctor, I don't know how you can be "close to being a Lisfranc," or even if there is such a thing, but here's my point: the team might need to find a punt returner. Either in the short term or, if Reid's injury doesn't heal like the team hopes, in the long term.

Secretly, I'm hoping the team offers Max Starks a third-round tender, some other team signs him, Levi Brown drops to 15, and Pittsburgh uses the extra third-round pick on this year's Devin Hester or Maurice Jones-Drew (I know, I know, these two were second-rounders, but I'm wishfully thinking here). And then, in the fourth-round, take Daniel Sepulveda. And I'm not even kidding. (Don't forget, Pittsburgh's got a crapload more comp picks coming their way. Anybody who doesn't think the punter is important, just take a look at Chris Gardocki, version 2006.)

Free Daniel Sepulveda ... free him now!