Looking Back at Draft Weekend

Let's page our way through this handy, dandy new "Steelers 2013 Draft Book" and see what notes, quote and anecdotes come rushing back to mind:

* The transcript of the pre-draft press conference came with the packet, and in it Kevin Colbert went over the off-season transactions. He included Isaac Redman with "the retentions," but not Jonathan Dwyer. Of course, after Le'Veon Bell was chosen the Steelers allegedly put Dwyer up for trade.

* Or at least they leaked they wanted to trade Dwyer. Struck me at the time as a motivational ploy for the conditioning-challenged running back. Now that I'm reading back through this pre-draft transcript, I'm not so sure.

* And, so, perhaps the book remains open on Ahmad Bradshaw.

* Colbert even mentioned the retention of Greg Warren, yet signed one of the draft's top long-snappers, Luke Ingram of Hawaii.

* Colbert on Sean Spence's re-hab: "He's continuing to work and doing a nice job of it, aggressively attacking the rehab, but we know this is going to be a process in terms of him marching his way back. But we like his demeanor and his availability throughout this process."

* As we know, assistant coach Arians, er, Butler, made Colbert's comment look foolish by the end of the week.

* No, I don't think Mike Tomlin will end up firing Keith Butler. But, yes, I do think Butler is taking on more responsibility with the media than his coach would probably want.

* I could pick nits about the Steelers' choice of Jarvis Jones in the first round – a player about whom I had concerns coming into the draft – but, really, there wasn't a slam dunk I otherwise had to have at that point.

* I'd predicted them taking Eric Reid, a tall, hard-hitting 21-year-old free safety who would seem capable of covering the league's growing number of Gronkowskis, but Reid – who went to San Francisco on the next pick – really was inconsistent this past season.

* And Shariff Floyd, I thought, didn't fit the scheme.

* I didn't see a tight end coming here, either, unless they couldn't pass on value later in the draft. So, really, I had no confidence in any of the alternatives at 17.

* Of course, I wrote several times about trading down and drafting WR DeAndre Hopkins. He went 27th, which seemed to fit my wish, but trading down takes two parties and that makes for a complicated complaint.

* So let's just see if the masters of the 3-4 defense know a little bit more about Jarvis Jones than some sportswriter from the suburbs.

* Scout.com had ranked Jones the No. 3 OLB in the country coming out of George Washington Carver High in Columbus, Ga., even though he had only 4 sacks in two seasons.

* No mention of Jones' family in his bio, and Tomlin did say "he's been through a lot." So, when I entered Jarvis+Jones+tragedy into my Google machine, I expected something like this: Jones Motivated by Brother's Murder, but never that extreme. Or tragic.

* I should say the young man has been through a lot.

* And I could empathize with Jones on that Friday night as he perspired profusely in a suit while sitting under the bright lights at his press conference.

* It reminded me of being back in Russian Literature Studies and giving my uneven take on "The Brothers Karamazov."

* That was a grad-school class at Pitt. I was trying to rise above sportswriting at the time, but I left the Cathedral of Learning that night and never looked back.

* As I noted after interviewing Jones at the combine, his demeanor reminds me of Larry Foote's. In my mind Jones has the makings of a future captain.

* The coach and GM always come to the media room to talk about the first-round pick, and the assistant coaches handle the interviews from that point forward. So I didn't get to talk to defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau about Jones.

* The subject didn't come up the next day, either, when I found myself standing behind LeBeau in the cafeteria lunch line. He was talking to one of the servers about an obscure Bob Dylan song named "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues." I knew LeBeau was a Dylan fan, but the Neil Young cover of that song from "Bobfest" is an all-time favorite of mine. So I began singing to the coach, "the cops don't need you, and, man, they expect the same." LeBeau turned and smiled and re-sang the lyric from the beginning: "If you're looking to get silly, you better go back to from where you came, because the cops don't need you, and man they expect the same."

* The Great Dick LeBeau.

* I told him that a great show – Dylan, Wilco and My Morning Jacket – was bypassing Pittsburgh for Columbus, Ohio, LeBeau's home. He said, "Yeah, that's close, but, Jimmy, whenever I get any free time I go golfing."

* So, we've gone from Columbus, Ga., to Columbus, Ohio, with this first pick. Should we take that as a positive sign?

* And, Bell, the second-round pick, was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, too. I swear I didn't know that until just now.

* Bell said his mom always told him the Steelers were going to draft him. "It's so crazy," he said.

* In watching Bell last season, I was reminded of 1980s workhorse James Wilder. Wilder was listed at 6-3, 225; Bell, at the combine, was 6-1½, 230.

* Wilder led the NFL with 407 carries in 1984; Bell led Division One college football with 382 carries last season.

* Todd Haley on Bell: "He's a young guy that doesn't have a lot of tread on the tire."

* I'm pretty sure he meant to say that Bell does have a lot of tread on the tire.

* At a conference call the week of the draft, star RB Steven Jackson was asked which back in this draft class reminds him of himself. He said Bell, because he has "the ability to run behind his path and stay in a physical conference like the Big Ten. He would probably be the closest in this draft."

* At his combine, Jackson measured 6-1½, 231. That makes him Bell's duplicate.

* Markus Wheaton came out of Chandler (Az.) High near Phoenix, as did fellow 2013 draftees Dion Jordan and Marc Anthony. But Wheaton never played with Jordan. Wheaton transferred to Chandler in 2008.

* Jordan's prep career came to an end in the middle of the 2007 season when a vacuum cleaner he was using to siphon gas exploded.

* Markus' brother Marquese was a starting defensive back for Southern Miss, and their cousin, Kenny Wheaton, spent three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Another cousin played at UTEP.

* I feel like I'm reading Troy Polamalu's bio.

* Wheaton's a sprinter who caught 227 passes and had a whopping 83 carries. But he only returned 4 kickoffs and 3 punts. Why? "I struggled," he admitted. "I struggled catching the punts. I obviously wanted it real bad. I worked at it and eventually moved up the depth chart. Senior year I did end up getting a couple; not as many as I wanted. But they had Jordan Poyer, who took over the position when we were young and he held onto it."

* Haley said the Steelers will "definitely have him back there working at it."

* Haley also called Wheaton "A gnarly guy." I love it, but when I think of Mike Wallace I don't think of gnarly.

* "I saw Mike as more of an outside receiver outside the numbers," Haley said of the inevitable Wallace-Wheaton comparison. "This guy played the slot a bunch when he wasn't outside. He has a little wider base, a little more running back in my opinion. The speed comparison? It's hard for anyone to run faster than Mike, but this guy does play fast."

* And apparently Wheaton will play split end, flanker, in the slot, and in the backfield, as he did at Oregon State. "That tells us he's a smart guy," Haley said. "Anytime a coach feels comfortable moving a guy around a bunch like that, that's good."

* This column's turned into a marathon. I'll post what I have and come back tomorrow with Part Duce.


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