Thursday, February 28, 2008

Apparently, Offensive Linemen Do Grow on Trees

Now that I'm mostly caught up on all the NFL Network's Combine coverage and I've had time to think about really important stuff like trying to figure out how many left tackles might be taken before the Steelers pick at 1.23, I've come to the conclusion (one I think Finnegans Wake made, oh, three weeks ago or so) that Pittsburgh should be able to get one of the guys they want without having to trade up.

Mike Mayock tells me there are potentially eight offensive tackles that could go in the first two rounds, and that list doesn't include Branden Albert. With the understanding that mock drafts are for entertainment purposes only and any predictions that eventually prove true are strictly coincidental, I point you to Chris Steuber's latest at, and Scott Wright's most recent effort at

Like most of you, I don't know enough about each individual player to have a real opinion. (Well, other than I know I'm supposed to love Branden Albert. Done and done.) But I'd feel pretty good about either Chris Williams or, obviously, Albert at 1.23.

I suppose you can make a case that most of the 22 teams in front of the Steelers could stand to upgrade the offensive line, assuming all else equal. My caveman calculations have the Rams, Chiefs, Broncos, Bears, and the Texans. That's five teams selecting before the Steelers. Perusing Mayock's top tackles (and this hasn't been updated post-combine, but it'll work for our throwing-darts-blindfolded purposes):

1. Jake Long
2. Jeff Otah
3. Ryan Clady
4. Chris Williams
5. Gosder Cherilus

And there's still Albert. Now Long and Clady will be gone, word on the street is that Otah is really, really slow, and he, along with Cherilus, might be better suited for right tackle in the NFL. Is that an issue? Eh, maybe, maybe not. Who knows what the hell will happen with Max Starks, which position he'll end up playing, and how well he'll play. has Long, Clady, Williams, Otah and then Anthony Collins and Sam Baker before getting to Cherilus. Again, I think FW mentioned Spencer earlier this week, and I'll be watching the Va. Tech-Kansas Orange Bowl to get a look-see. And yes, I have this -- along with about 15 other bowl games -- on tape because of the vaunted HSS Draft Project. That worked out well.

Bottom line: I'm feeling pretty good about the Steelers' chances of landing an o-lineman in Round 1. Now they just have to, you know, draft one.