Complete Draft Madness, I Tell You

Are you confused yet? I know I am. Just ask Seattle's Director of College Scouting Scot McCloughan, "From 15 on anything can happen. It's the worst I've ever seen and this is my 10th or 11th draft. There's 10 players that are legit guys and then it goes quick."

Amen, Scot. Whether it is a run on cornerbacks, jumping off the deep end with a gimpy running back, or the prospect of more Round 1 trades than any other time in draft history, this is the most unpredictable first round in recent memory.

A few days ago, NFL.com's Gil Brandt listed his Nifty 50. That's 50 players who could go in the first round. You don't need to be a professional musical chairs athlete to understand that, of those players, 18 of them will end up in the second round.

But wait, it gets worse, much worse.

Brandt has put these first round prospects into three groups. In the first group are your surefire top picks who are clearly worthy of their first round grades. They will go, and go quickly, during the first half of round 1, all 12 of them.

The second group could go anywhere from pick number 10 to pick number 30. They are also assured a first round call but noone is exactly sure when they will be picked. There are 19 players in this "b-group".

The "c-group" is comprised of players who are likely to be drafted from number 25 to 55 (mid-second round). 22 Players fall into this category.

If you notice that these three groups add up to more than 50, you are beginning to understand the developing anarchy.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' pick at 27 sits in the limbo of where the b-group and c-group overlap. I realize that Kevin Colbert would narrow the targeted pick to 3-5 players, but in Brandt's scheme of things, Colbert will have to consider all 41 players that would be worthy of a pick at that spot.

Looking at the players that Brandt has in the b-group, only CB Sammy Davis stands out as a prospect that the Steelers would chase. Of course, don't tell NFL.com's Vic Carucci that. He doesn't have either Sammy Davis or Eugene Wilson going in the first round, along with 4 other b-group players. What run on cornerbacks?

If you buy Brandt's groupings and a run-on-CB, then the Steelers are likely to be picking in the c-group. The Steelers won't really be picking in the first round; it just looks that way. These are first round talents with some remarkable blemish. They'll be searching for Charlie-in-the-Box on the Island of Misfit Toys.

The Steelers may be lucky and one of the teams sitting behind them may covet one of the b-group offensive players still on the board and try to move up and escape the Island of Misfit Toys. There is no sense paying more for Charlie-in-the-Box than you have to. However, once the Steelers figure out that they are truly on the Island of Misfit Toys with the somewhat premature pick of Sammy Davis by the Indianapolis Colts or the Cleveland Browns, who once again prove that they don't understand the value of an offensive line, there are a host of interesting players to choose from.

Misfit #1 is Andre Woolfolk, the latest rumor rage in Steeler circles. This is the Troy Edwards pick of 2003: "I wanna cornerback. Waaaaaaaahhhhhh." Woolfolk thinks he is a cornerback, but the rest of the NFL is not sure yet. He looks like a Steeler cornerback, size and all. However, he's probably more of a wide receiver. The Steelers will probably groom him as the #3 quarterback. I'm pretty sure he'd beat out Seneca Wallace, who should be permanently banished to the Island of Misfit Toys (which, consequently, is off the coast of Canada). Either that or Woolfolk can learn from Chad Scott how to overplay the position and drive all Steeler fans to drink (not that Steeler fans do not already drink, which is the quarterback's fault). Rudolph, I mean Bill Cowher, best keep his big red chin off of this misfit.

Misfit #2 is Rashean Mathis. What happened to this wunderkind of interceptions, Mr. Small School Big Playmaker? The small school tag appears to be catching up with Mathis. And, he's dumb as a post. Actually, I've just heard that. I don't know if it is true. Just don't ask Chad Scott about it. He may just decide not to play for the entire 2003 season, at least at safety. I just figure that if the Steelers are willing to consider Woolfolk, why not pick Mathis?

"But how will Mathis fare against big-time competition?"

Hey, we are talking Island of Misfits here. This is the land of upside. I will tell you this: I've watched Woolfolk get burned by all kinds of big-time competition while maintaining all the measurables at the cornerback position. I think Mathis would be a better pick, but the Steelers don't seem interested.

Misfits #3, 4, and 5 are the Safeties-in-the-Box. Get it? You know them as Troy Polamalu, Mike Doss, and Terrance Kiel. Polamalu is short, but a playah. Doss is short, but is a bit slower than Polamalu and doesn't show as much upside in pass coverage. Kiel's a Day 2 safety masquerading as a Round 2 pick. Actually, Kiel has better size and more pass coverage upside than Doss and Polamalu put together, but don't tell anyone I said that. You might be able to put all these players in the Land That Time Forgot, hosted by Lee Flowers and Sammy Knight.

The word is that the Steelers are not likely to go Dead End (DE) with their first pick. The cornerback boat looks to have departed before the Steelers got to the dock. And we all know that Dexter Jackson found a much bigger sandbox to play in. Cowher is sick and tired of everyone picking on poor Lee Flowers.

You want insanity? I'll give you insanity. With their first pick of the 2003 draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select… Terrance Kiel, Texas A&M. Crazy? Try Andre Woolfolk on for size. Safety-in-the-Box is the only name on the Island of Misfits that I recognize.

Jim Russell
SteelCitySports.com


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