Palmer�s Draft Pre-Look
Special by PalmerSucks
April 22, 2012
Hey, nice call I had there with New England to win the Bowl, huh? Now you know why I don�t bet on those things. Although, it must be said, the Patsies were probably a dropped pass away from winning it all. Thanks Welker, and thank you too Mr. Bundchen, for flopping when it counted most.And sparing us another disgusting chowd�head victory parade.
From the Stillers standpoint, watching New England choke up a late lead reinforced what�s been our own problem the last five years. A while back, Mill posted a link to an article pointing out that the Stillers and Patsies share the same weakness: giving up late comeback drives to the opposition. The Patsies almost blew it against the great Joe Flacco in the championship game, and were lucky to make the Bowl in the first place. (Maybe that�s why Big Joe proclaimed himself the best damn QB in the game today! And who could argue?)
Now here we are in April. The Stillers� needs this draft season are as follows: offense line, defensive line and inside linebacker. The defensive back situation isn�t great, and there�s a HUGE need for a speed running back regardless of whether Mendenhall comes back at 100 percent. The lack of a home-run running threat has been a key reason for the team�s low-point production; the Stillers haven�t had consistent breakaway runs since Willie Parker left town.
Stillers �consensus pick� Dontari Poe, the big DT from Memphis, no longer seems such a likely take, as his combine workouts have sent his stock soaring. (Look for Dallas to grab him with the 14th pick.) I�d love to see the Stillers score Boston College LB Luke Kuechly, who�d add big-time speed and hitting to the spot vacated (finally!) by Farrior. That too seems unlikely, as Kuechly�s likely gone long before the 24th pick.
That leaves Don�t�a Hightower, the inside �backer from Alabama, as theobvious first-round candidate. While some question his agility, there�s no question he was a playmaker on the unit responsible for the Tide�s national title. Provided he�s still around, he�s probably too tempting for the Stillers to pass up.
The Stillers have Steve Sylvester as a candidate to fill Farrior�s spot. Sly�s a special-teams demon, but I doubt he�s the answer on downs. He struggles to read, react and shed blocks. I think he�s suited ideally for a situational role � which leaves the need for inside help (unless you think Foote is the man).
This is a draft deep in o-linemen, so Mike Adams, the LT from Ohio State, stays in the running. A spotty Senior Bowl performance and a weak bench-press at the combine likely have dropped him into late-first-round territory.
The Stillers have a $100 million-dollar quarterback and a $10 o-line. This sorry situation has to be addressed � dumping #68 took care of the addition-by-subtraction part; now it�s time for the straight addition.
Nobody gives the Stillers more problems than the Ravens� Haloti Ngata. The Stillers could counter with 350 pounds of Brandon Brooks, the o-lineman from Miami of Ohio. My �sleeper� pick,hecan play almost any position on the line. Brooks weighs in at a solid three-and-a-half bills without the guardgut. His agility-drill scoresbordered on the amazing, and as for strength, he finished just a bench-press rep behind Poe, whose performance wowed the scouts so much. But what sealed the deal was his performance at the East-West Shrine game, where he dominated. Brooks would look good for the Stillers at guard � and is worth the slight reachin the late second round. Brooks would join current Stiller MAC standouts Roethlisberger, Harrison and Antonio Brown.
As I said, Poe�s out of reach for the Stillers, but keep in mind Penn State�s Devon Still if the team insists on picking a d-lineman early. (Besides, imagine the puns to be made off his last name!) Still is the cousin of a familiar name: Levon Kirkland. The Nittany Lions�mediocre showing last season masked what was a pretty fair defensive unit, anchored by Still.
Aaron Smith leaves the defense with a huge hole at d-end, and the Stillers might look at South Carolina�s Mel Ingram (who could be converted to 3-4 LB) or Hightower�s �bama teammate, Courtney Upshaw (same conversion potential). The sleeper here is Jonathan Massaquoi out of Troy State, who broke out in 2011 with 13.5 sacks.
As I mentioned in an earlier commentary, there�s a draft issue the Stillers should address � actually a coming trend in NFL football. That�s at the TE position, where a new breed of player is being born. In fact, 3 playoff teams featured this kind of player: New England, San Francisco and New Orleans. The prototype is San Francisco�s Vernon Davis, who at 250 pounds runs sub 4.40s.Blazing speed is the hallmark of this kind of TE; blocking isn�t.
Davis, along with Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, represent what I call the �new tight end.� The new tight end is a match-up nightmare: too big for safeties, too fast for linebackers. Graham notched a whopping 1,300+ yards, and 13.2 YPC most receivers would envy. Gronkowski led a Patriots receiving corps without the benefit of a true WR deep threat.
The Stillers have Heath Miller, who represents the classic NFL tight end. Certainly he�s been successful, but if the Stillers want an offensive upgrade, the new tight end is something to keep in mind.
The top new-tight-end prospect in 2012 is Stanford�s Coby Fleener, Andrew Luck�s favorite receiving target. At 6-6 Fleener has great size and leaping ability, and he blew away scouts with his 4.43 40s. This rare combination of size and athleticism could move Fleener up into the late first round.
The Stillers have some catching up to do with Baltimore. Let�s see what they can accomplish this week. Pop open a cold Iron or two and enjoy the most ridiculous primetime program on TV.