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Steelers draft: Needful things
April 27, 2009 - Buck Frank
The Steelers had a successful 2009 draft -- of what can be graded at this time. It won't be ranked among the top drafts by any of the experts, but it answered their needs -- which are a lot less than most teams.
The players they selected aren't going to be expected to come right in and start the opener against the Titans. If one does, that' will just be a bonus. Unlike teams such as Detroit, Cincinnati and Cleveland, the Steelers don't need any of their picks to have much impact in 2009. If they show promise, get on the field for some experience and blossom in 2010 or 2011, then this year's draft will be considered a long-term success, which is ideal.
The draft went pretty much as expected, unlike last year when Rashard Mendenhall fell to them. It was predicted they would take an offensive lineman, defensive lineman, wide receiver and cornerback with their first four picks, and that's exactly what they did, although not in that order
Here are my thoughts on each of their picks:
First round: Ziggy Hood, DE, Missouri: I didn't expect him to be there at No. 32. If centers Alex Mack or Eric Wood would have still been available, the Steelers may not have Hood right now. Hood looks like a great fit, though.
Third round: Kraig Urbik, G, Wisconsin: The Steelers are hoping he will push Darnell Stapleton for the starting right guard position. He could also end up with Willie Colon's right tackle job. Urbik may hold the key to how well this draft is eventually rated.
Third round: Mike Wallace, WR, Mississippi. I had the Steelers taking Arizona's Mike Thomas in this spot but also had mentioned Wallace and PSU's Derrick Williams as possibilities. Williams was gone, but Thomas was available. Thomas was more polished but his height, 5-foot-8, probably hurt him with the Steelers. Wallace has great potential.
Third round: Keenan Lewis, CB, Oregon State. This pick was a little surprising to me. I didn't have him among the group of corners the Steelers may consider in the middle rounds. Didn't Penn State light up the Beavers last year?
Fifth round: Joe Burnett, CB, UCF. I had Burnett as a possibility around this spot, but it was a somewhat surprising pick considering they had just taken another corner and already had a kick returner in Wallace.
Fifth round: Frank "The Tank' Summers, RB, UNLV: I had Summers as a free-agent signee, but I'm guessing the Steelers felt they could gamble a bit with a couple of extra picks. Summers is not a complete back, but he could be the Steelers' short-yardage back this year.
Sixth round: Ra'Shon Harris, DE, Oregon. He going to have a tough time making the opening-day roster. There's no way they keep him ahead of Hampton, Keisel, Smith or Hood.
Seventh round: A.Q. Shipley, C, Penn State: Great pick for the seventh round. After the top three centers went in the first 50 picks, the Steelers must have figured they could wait awhile to take one. Shipley was considered a third-round talent by some, and he has as good of a chance as Urbik at sticking with the team.
Seventh round: David Johnson, TE, Arkansas State: ??????. I just can't believe the Steelers passed on Maryland's Dan Gronkowski, whom Scotty Franco said had the perfect name for a Steeler tight end.
Free agents: The Steelers apparently signed Central Washington quarterback Mike Reilly. He was a Ron Jaworski favorite. Not sure if that's a good thing or not.