Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Pittsburgh Steelers - Like A Rock

"The discreet man [builds] his house upon the rock-mass. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and lashed against that house, but it did not cave in, for it had been founded upon the rock-mass. - Matthew 7:24, 25

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a reputation and long tradition for being steady and consistent in the NFL Draft and free agency. They show discretion by rarely reaching or gambling in either, but more often than not they find their reach to be true and their grip to be firm.

Steady, sound, firm...like a rock.

With the 2012 version of the draft starting this Thursday, that rock-like approach will surely be on display once again. As a part of the week's events, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin held a pre-draft press conference on Monday to discuss their thoughts and concerns...and possibly to allay others.

To wit - Mike Tomlin said, "We are not worried about the reports about Mike Wallace, we will see how it plays out." Kevin Colbert also said, "Our intention has always been to sign Mike to a long term contract." The Mike Wallace situation, though, will not affect what they do in the draft. (Because we obviously can't go a week or a blog without mentioning Mike Wallace. Now that that's done...)

Colbert started off the presser by saying that they were about 98% done with their prep. The board, Colbert said, is about set. The last minute character and medical checks are currently being done. Colbert said they will draft from about 150 players and that most of the depth is at wide receiver and cornerback. Whereas the least amount of depth is at fullback, safety, center and tight end.

There has been speculation over the last month as to whether or not they will trade up or down depending on whether the players or players whom they're keying in on is available or not. Or whether they find enough value to stand pat in the first place. Colbert essentially answered that when he said, "As always, we will make all our calls and find out what teams want to move up and down accordingly in the draft"

Colbert admitted that there are a few "surefire" first-rounders. After those players, teams will be taking more of a flyer than in past years.

"You get beyond the first seven or 10 guys [and] everyone's going to be picking and hoping. We'll be one of those teams. I guess there's less easy picks this year than in a lot of recent years. Quite honestly there's not a lot of players in this draft that can come in and be immediate impact guys for us."

Acknowledging that is basically stating that they aren't expecting much this year out of top pick. At that point, Dontari Poe or Dont'a Hightower seem logical picks for the Steelers. If they are there, that is.

Since the overwhelming choice by Steelers fans is Hightower, we'll use him in the scenario. If the Steelers take Hightower, linebackers coach Keith Butler would be able to groom him for a year behind Larry Foote and then have him take over at the buck linebacker position.

Hightower brings leadership and size and seems to have recovered from the knee injury and resultant surgery that cut short his sophomore campaign.

Some, though, question that size saying that he's too big and that it affects his open-field tackling ability. To that I say two words: Levon Kirkland.

The Steelers are simply rock solid. Time and again they make solid if not spectacular choices in their draft and free agency selections, of which Kirkland is an example.

Sure, mistakes have been made. But for every Daniel Sepulveda (traded up to get him in the fourth round) there's a Willie Parker and a Donnie Shell (undrafted free agents).

This may best sum up the Steelers draft success, especially under Colbert: "Need is not a good word. It's want. We want players, we don't necessarily need."

They truly have built their house on that rock-mass. Neither the winds of change nor the torrents of free agency have collapsed it. The most consistent and successful franchise in the Super Bowl era...and they're ready to continue that success this week.

Like a rock.