Again, Steelers will be playing wait-and-see

At times the draft can be an adventure with the Steelers as quite often they do the unexpected; sometimes it works out while in other situations they are not so lucky. You can't knock their success since the team is competitive on a yearly basis. So how will the draft play out for Pittsburgh next weekend?

Constantly selecting late in the rounds is an annual wait-and-see proposition for Bill Cowher and company - wait several hours then see which players are still on the board. That will be the case come Saturday. But, by using deduction, knowing team needs, and utilizing a little inside information, we can throw out a few names for fans to remember.

If a pass rusher is what the Steelers are looking for, then they may have to wait until the middle rounds. Ohio State's Kenny Peterson, a two-gap lineman perfectly suited for the Pittsburgh scheme, could be off the board at pick 27. Tyler Brayton of Colorado and Alabama teammates Jarrett Johnson and Kindal Moorehead are all line prospects that make plays up the field and should be available to Pittsburgh in round two. Should you be looking for a late round diamond in the rough, consider Cliff Washburn of the Citadel, a terrific athlete in the Sam Clancy mode and a former basketball player who just recently stepped back onto the football field. Though he may need time to develop his skills, Washburn is worth the long-term investment.

The loss of Wayne Gandy makes offensive tackle a need as the team is pinning its hopes on the combination of Oliver Ross, Todd Fordham, and Marvel Smith to protect Tommy Maddox, a thought that can be scary. One prospect that receives mixed reviews is Stanford's Kwame Harris, a terrific athlete with the upside potential to be a dominant blocker at the next level but an aloof person who may need some time for the light to come on. Still, if available at choice 27, Harris is an excellent value. Brett Williams of Florida State is a solid day one consideration and can be used on either side of the line, while Brennan Curtin of Notre Dame is a developing young lineman with great size, growth potential, and fundamentals.

The secondary will most certainly be addressed, possibly with several picks during the seven rounds. Depending on any last minute free agency deals Troy Polamalu of USC or Mike Doss of Ohio State are excellent fits. Both bring the hard-hitting, intimidating style Cowher likes from his defensive backs, and each has a good degree of cover skills and abilities to make plays when the ball is in the air.

If they wait until after the first round, players such as Julian Battle in round two, Todd Johnson in round four, or Louisiana Lafayette's Charles Tillman a round later also are matches for Pittsburgh's system.

Bryan Scott of Penn State would also be a solid second day choice and offers possibilities not only at safety but corner as well. Pittsburgh likes the big play skills of Shane Walton while the speedy Kevin Garrett of SMU would receive consideration in round two if still available.

Tony Pauline
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