Steelers Draft Preview

Through all the smoke screens, misdirections, and false leads, the Steelers enter Saturday's draft basically looking at 3 players: safety Troy Polamulu, quarterback Rex Grossman, and cornerback Sammy Davis.<br><br> But, the question for the Steelers isn't whether they should go offense or defense with the first pick, but rather "which player isn't a reach at # 27?"

Popular thought contends that the Steelers' woes in the secondary will best be solved by using most of their high-end picks on defensive backfield players while adding the occasional quarterback or gratuitous offensive lineman in later rounds.

However, don't expect a Philadelphia Eagle-like display over the first 3 rounds. The Steelers aren't about to pick 3 straight defensive backs, and it's quite possible that the Steelers won't even address the secondary until the 3rd round.

The Steelers have their eyes on LB Antwan Peek in the second round and should they take Rex Grossman as the esteemed Jim Wexell has alluded too, Peek would be too good a catch in the second round to pass up.

But, taking Grossman is a difficult and risky decision to make. Polamulu and Sammy Davis are legitimate late first-round, early second-round picks, but at what cost? Does Rex Grossman give them a plum too ripe to pass up? And if they do take Grossman and then Peek, is the 3rd round too late to begin adding secondary depth?

And just to add more acid to the wound, should a player like Willis McGahee, who is rehabbing from injury but has immense potential, become available, do the Steelers take him?

In their defense, they don't have a glaring hole (operative word here is glaring) on the team that would make the first-round choice a no-brainer. Nor do they have many options with the late pick.

As for the rest of the draft, clues can be found in Bill Cowher's press conference transcript. He mentioned, "If there's a good player, regardless of how you are as a football team, you've got to look at that player. If you have an opportunity to get a good football player, you'd better grab him. Because your strength this year can be a weakness next year based on the contractual situation of your team. " Therefore, it's an educated guess that Steelers will probably look seriously at a tight end and not an offensive lineman in the middle rounds. While Bruener's future will definitely be sealed this weekend, Bettis' sky looks a bit brighter. With the lack of any true marquee running back except for the aforementioned McGahee, Bettis' job looks secure.

What is for certain is that the Steelers have projected scenarios of how they will play the draft beyond the first round. Perhaps a safety in the first round equals a linebacker and tight end in the second and third rounds. Or a quarterback in the first round equals a safety and cornerback in the second and third rounds.

Regardless, the vault to the Steelers (mythical?) draft procedures is locked with nary an obvious clue from Cowher or Kevin Colbert. But read between the lines of the press conference, and the articles that have jumped out in recent days on this site, and you'll see the foregone conclusion.

10 Prospects To Watch
Rex Grossman 6-1 218 Florida
Dave Ragone 6-3 251 Louisville
Willis McGahee 6-0 223 Miami
Antwan Peek 6-2 250 Cincinnati
Sammy Davis 5-11 185 Texas A&M
Andre Woolfolk 6-1 195 Oklahoma
Jeff Faine (C) 6-3 298 Notre Dame
Troy Polamalu 5-10 208 USC
Rashean Mathis 6-0 202 Bethune-Cookman
Mike Doss 5-10 203 Ohio St.

2002 Draft Results

1 Kendall Simmons OG Auburn
2 Antwaan Randle El WR Indiana
3 Chris Hope CB Florida State
4 Larry Foote LB Michigan
5 Verron Haynes FB Georgia
6 Lee Mays WR Texas-El Paso
7A LaVar Glover CB Cincinnati
7B1 Brett Keisel DE Brigham Young

Steelers Draft Picks Per Round

1 27 (27)
2 27 (59)
3 28 (92)
4 28 (125)
5 28 (163)
6 28 (200)
7 28 (27)

John Biles

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