Stillers 2000 Draft Outlook
New GM Colbert stole some of "my" thunder a few days ago, in his pre-draft news conference. Among some of his comments:
"I think we need a weapon offensively. I don't think we had a good weapon or a set of weapons here last year.
"The offensive line wasn't as strong as it needed to be last year."
"And, defensively, I don't think there's an impact player, not like they've had here in the past. That's general, but that's kind of what we think it is."
Bingo!! Obviously, when referring to our defense, he is REFERRING to OLB. In the past, we had Greene, Lloyd, and Chad making HUGE plays at OLB. When it was 3rd and 8 in a key series in the 3rd quarter, we got harassment on the QB�not this absurd titty-fighting while the QB stands there for 12 seconds and completes a 26-yard pass or scrambles unmolested for 20 yards.
He acknowledges the OL needs help, but ALSO staunchly says how we need a "weapon" on offense.
We can get 5 All-Pros to man our offensive line. However, if teams are not fearful of our DOWNFIELD threat, they will stack EIGHT, and NINE, men on the line. Five all-pro linemen CANNOT block 9 defenders. It's simply impossible.
We MUST get a downfield threat on this offense, if we are going to do anything this season offensively. Fat Chris Samuels is NOT going to open up a lot of gaping holes for Bettis. However, if Burress or some other stellar WR starts hauling in 20 & 30-yard receptions, safeties and other men will have to move away from the LOS, thus allowing Bettis/Huntley some room to run.
Cowher, of course, is oblivious to all of this. His idea of offensive football, is to "keep the game close and hope for a win in the 4th quarter." His idea is to use 275-pound Jerome Bettis, or 240-pound SLOWPOKE Jon Witmann, split out wide in a 3 or 4 receiver set, to "fool" and "confuse" the defense. The only confusion, is when the defenders are bent over laughing at such a ridiculous, no-brained scheme. Cowher's idea of offensive football, is to take a veteran journeyman, who was signed to be a 3rd down possession receiver, and START him for not one, but TWO seasons in a row. Hawkins, of course, responded with prolific stats of 1 TD and 10 yds/catch in those 2 years. Before anyone even thinks of reminding me that Bill Cowhead is not the Offensive Coordinator, let me restate that Cowhead is SUPPOSED to be running the ENTIRE show, which is why he's being paid equal to the elite coaches in the NFL. Cowhead has also staunchly stated that HE is running the show, so I don't want any feeble-assed excuses about Cowhead and his asinine inability to grasp the basic fundamentals of offensive football.
At any rate, here's my position by position breakdown of draft needs for the Stillers. (By the way, if you'd like to read my outlook that I wrote before LAST year's draft, click here.)
QB: At first glance, the cupboard seems full, with Stew, Graham , and Wright. Although I doubt the team will boldly use a pick in the 1st 3 rounds to take a QB, I'd have no problems with it if they did. I'm not as enamored with Wright as most folks are, though if he'd gotten ANY playing time in December, we might have a better read on him. Marc Bulger is one mid-rated QB who I'd like to see drafted. If the team truly is impressed with Pennington, I'd be able to live with that pick.
RB: With Bus --- if he's not dealt, and I doubt he will be --- and Hunt, we have a very capable 1-2 punch. Also, Amos and Fu are backups, though this is the year for Fu to either crap or get off the pot. Since the Stillers have a pretty hefty number of picks, they could use a mid-to-late round pick on a guy they have a good bit of interest on.
FB: It's a travesty that Witmann is making the outrageous money that he's being a paid�.it's even more a travesty that for basically the past 2 years, he has had exactly NO ONE behind him to push for PT. Carlos King, another in the long line of 3rd round BUSTS, never did anything, and that was Witmann's only competition. Not only that, but it's dangerous to have no backup on the active roster, in case of injury or suspension. The team might opt to sign an undrafted FA FB, but I'd prefer to also spend a 3rd rounder on a quality FB.
TE: Just like I said last year �..Yeah, right�..we reeeeally need to spend a draft pick on ANOTHER 19-catch per year wonderboy. I don't think so�.. Cushing and Tuman can fight for the backup spot.
WR: Obviously, since the team did nothing to address one of its WORST problems in free agency, this has a high priority in the draft. Without question, a 1st or 2d round pick must be used to augment this sorry-assed band of receivers. After a solid rookie season, Ward failed to develop AT ALL, and Shaw, though a nice RAC receiver, is not a downfield threat. A fleet &/or big receiver, to complement Troy, is a must.
C: Dawson is getting a bit old, and finally showing signs of aging. If there truly is a C whom the team's scouts have admired, then they need to strongly consider drafting him. This way, Dawson can work with the man and groom him to be able to start in '02.
OG: The signing of Tylski and The Pierogi Boy, Myslinksi, diminished some of the need at OG. However, Orlandini tore up his knee at NFL Europe and is lost for the season, so there is a small need to look for a G in a mid-to-late round pick.
OT: There's a lot of quantity at OT (Gandy, Shar, Ferris, Brown, Conrad) but little quality. Surely the team should look at using a 3rd rounder on a quality OT, hopefully one from a big-name program who will not require 6 years of development.
K: With Kris Brown's strong rookie season, there's absolutely no need to spend a pick on a kicker.
NT: Fat Joel Steed's impending departure (from being CUT) leaves a bit of a void at NT. Kimo can play there, of course. But contrary to popular opinion, most notably in the major Pittsburgh media, Jeremy "The Slugg" Staat is NO nose tackle. He's no more a NT than Breuner is a fleet-footed receiver. There's little reason to spend a pick, unless it's in a late round, on a NT�.the team has other more pressing needs and can live with Kimo.
DE: The departure of Roye, coupled with the intense fascination Holan Harrison has with spending all his time in hot tubs, leaves the team in a real quandary at DE. Sullie will man one end, and veteran journeyman Keeevin Henry the other, but this hardly strikes fear into any opponent. A stud DE would be a nice draftee, though the team would be hard-pressed to select one until round 3.
ILB: This is a smallish need�.John Fiala was recently re-signed. Though he is small, he has good heart to play backup and spec teams. If a solid ILB is available in mid-to-late rounds, it wouldn't be a shabby idea to draft the guy.
OLB: Again, despite the Pittsburgh media that LOVES to fawn over Jason Gildong, this is a NEED area. Even Colbert acknowledged as much, when he stated: " And, defensively, I don't think there's an impact player, not like they've had here in the past." He must havde scoured game films, and been simply MORTIFIED at the pitiful play we got from our OLBs. Sure, Porter should do quite well, but Gildon is such a miserable weak link that it ruins anything the defense tries to stuff. Plus, Gildon's gross ineptitude to provide heat from the edge, leaves the entire secondary vulnerable to big plays. A big-play, IMPACT OLB is a must-get in this draft. The team must spend a pick somewhere in the 1st 3 rounds on an OLB. If you read my outlook from last year's draft, you'll see that I had written, "Without question, an OLB *MUST* be taken, hopefully within the 1st 3 rounds. Gildon and Emmons are little more than mediocre, and Vrabel has yet to prove he can play OLB in the 3-4. D. Jones, the top backup at OLB, is gone. If nothing else, an OLB must be drafted for depth and special teams chores." " Kearse would be the impact OLB we have been desperately missing in our 3-4 scheme ever since Chad Brown left and G. Lloyd came back gimpy from his knee injury. No one in the NFL is scared of the pitter-pattering Emmons and Gildon. Neither man is capable of beating an OT 1-on-1 with any regularity, and neither is anywhere close to being an impact player. I highly doubt Kearse will still be available; Detroit will take him."
CB: There's always a need for CB's, what with spec team needs, nickel defense needs, and backup needs. Chad and DeWayne are set as the starters, but the backups (Simmons, Townsend) are on thin ice. At least 1 mid-to-high pick should be used on a CB.
S: Travis Davis may likely be a sal-cap casualty, leaving Shields to start with Flowers. Lance Brown, who's overly mediocre, was re-signed in a what was considered to be a "big move" by the Stillers. At most, a late round pick might be used on a S, but I really doubt it, unless some sleeper really caught the team's eye in workouts.
P: Josh, as hideous as it may seem, is pretty well cemented in the punting job.
Two KEY things this draft MUST bring, if this team has any desire to play football in mid-January:
1. IMPACT playmaking. We have enough pluggers, muckers, and grinders to make many hockey teams proud. Great. Now we need some IMPACT. At some point in time, your football team has got to SCORE touchdowns on offense and cause opportunistic, back-breaking sacks, fumbles and INT's on defense. With the offensive rules in place nowadays, this Cro-Magnon mentality of trying to win games 10-6 is sheer asininity.
2. SPEED. It's downright embarrassing in this day in age, to have an NFL team with such a pitiful dearth of team speed. There surely must be at least 40 collegiate teams who can take their top 53 players and whip the piss out of this lumbering Stillers roster in speed and agility drills. While a lot of football is grit and old-fashioned hitting, a good bit is also speed and outright beating an opponent to the corner or downfield. The Rams, Colts, and even Titans showed that speed is a key element in the NFL nowadays. It's a farce that Donaschmoe and Cowhead allowed this roster to lapse into a collective bunch of stumbling slowpokes.
The Still Mill