Add Chip Off the Ironhead Block

Mike Prisuta doesn't profess to be an expert, but he's watched enough college football to know what he likes.

I'm thinking it'll be Cameron Heyward, defensive end, The Ohio State University, for the Steelers on Round One.

I'm thinking that as opposed to calling the shot for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is I just haven't gotten into my pre-draft bunker and crunched those three-cone drill numbers as often as I usually do, as much as I had initially intended.

As a result, I'm analyzing this year's draft mostly from memory.

Thankfully, I put the time in there, hours and hours of it, watching Big Ten football in front of the Big Screen.

Ironhead's kid made quite an impression then.

So did Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue, a terror off the edge. And J.J. Watt of Wisconsin, my favorite player in the nation not named Owen Marecic (if the Steelers somehow wind up with this guy even I'll be campaigning for Bruce Arians to re-introduce the fullback position to the offense).

And so did those Iowa guys, led by Adrian Clayborn.

No question about it; the defensive linemen were Liuget in the Big Ten last season. And there were enough of those destroyers in the Midwest and elsewhere that I'm guessing Heyward ought to be there for the taking at No. 31 overall.

Aaron Williams of Texas might be, as well. But the questions as to whether his NFL future is eventually at safety have to be factored into the Steelers' solve-the-cornerback-position-quickly dilemma.

They don't want to have to draft another first-round corner in two years, do they? There's also the Texas question.

I was reminded of this during a pre-draft conversation with one of my scouting buddies (a few phone calls were made; I'm not totally unprepared). Those who evaluate talent in the NFL are acutely aware that there have been too many Burnt-Orange Busts for comfort over the years. It apparently has something to do with how much Longhorns are pampered in Austin. For every Casey Hampton there's a Limas Sweed.

Actually, there are a lot more Sweeds.

So Williams isn't worth the risk. Not when there will be so many almost-as-good cornerback candidates available in the second and third rounds, players who will still improve the position in Pittsburgh.

And offensive tackle isn't worth the first-round investment, not with what will be left at No. 31 (assuming Derek Sherrod is already gone) and not with Sean Kugler already established as a do-more-with-less offensive line coach.

But those sure-bet defensive linemen, as many as there are, are only going to last so long; if you need one the time to go and get one is immediately.

And the Steelers need one.

Heyward would be a nice follow-up to Ziggy Hood in terms of restocking the position with much-needed youth. And Heyward's learning curve wouldn't be as severe as Hood's given the similarities between the defenses played in Columbus and on the North Shore.

Heyward didn't play every play at Ohio State, but who does? Coach Mitch can fix that. And other than that there are no negatives, no red flags associated with a guy who served as a Buckeyes captain (as far as I've been able to tell Heyward hasn't ever been accused of selling his memorabilia for annually beating Michigan to a guy who runs a tattoo parlor).

Scouts will tell you that Heyward has played AAU basketball with the likes of Jon Baldwin, Terrelle Pryor and DeJuan Blair (Heyward is that athletic). They'll also tell you that Heyward can play that 5-technique (that's a cool way of saying he can shade the outside shoulder of the tackle and hold his ground in the running game).

Jim Tressel knew the Steelers were going to draft Heyward eight months ago, but for some reason Tressel never told anyone.

By now the word is out.


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