Looking Back at Draft Weekend II

Earlier this week we paged through the "Steelers 2013 Draft Book" in search of notes, quotes and anecdotes. It was so much fun we're doing a Part II, starting now:

* So if the Steelers win the Super Bowl this season, as expected, they'll give the Browns the 96th pick of next year's draft, or a trade-up of 15 spots for the right to give Shamarko Thomas a year of experience.

* And use him to win the Super Bowl, of course.

* I called the trade a risk the other day because he's not quite 5 feet 9 and they traded away next year's third-round pick for him. I believe there's an inherent risk in the shelf life of any strong safety in this scheme, let alone a small one.

* Although I do acknowledge that at 213 pounds, Thomas weighs as much as Eric Reid and only one pound less than Kenny Vaccaro.

* There's also the problem of pass coverage on the larger tight ends, which was predictably written off by the Steelers because of Thomas' 40-inch vertical jump. But that kind of jumping for anything other than a poorly thrown ball is just not reality.

* I'll admit I haven't watched the tape of Thomas covering Robert Woods as the cornerback in Syracuse's nickel package, as suggested by DBs coach Carnell Lake. Woods did catch 10 passes for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns that game.

* I liked this quote from Lake: "Not only will he cover you, he will hit you and hit you hard."

* And this: "My job is to get him ready," Lake said. "Since I've been here, it hasn't really been much of an issue." And then Lake ticked off the names Cortez Allen and Keenan Lewis.

* After Lake's press conference, I asked him if Robert Golden is now entrenched as the backup free safety. Lake didn't give me a yes or no, just this: "Last year we had him play nickel, strong and free. The great thing about Golden is he's just really smart." Sounds like a free safety to me.

* I learned that 4b pick Landry Jones was named after Cowboys coach Tom Landry, but I can't get the name Greg Landry out of my head. Greg Landry was a 6-4, 210-pound quarterback who was drafted with the 11th pick of the 1968 draft by the Detroit Lions. He spent 15 years in the league, was named to a Pro Bowl, had a career passer rating of 72.9, was sacked 310 times – including a league-high 55 times in the 14-game 1976 season – and finished with a won-loss record of 44-51-3.

* It takes talent to make 98 NFL starts. It takes mediocrity to post a .464 winning percentage.

* Landry Jones, I believe, has that kind of mediocrity.

* They wanted a backup to Ben; they got one.

* Jones, by the way, measured 6-4¼, 225 at the combine and flashed the kind of 40 time – 5.11 – that could get him sacked 55 times some dark, dismal season.

* Jones led his 4A high school team to back-to-back state titles in New Mexico. Great, but New Mexico football is hardly inspiring.

* Uh oh. Now I'm going to hear it from Los Lobos of Steelers Nation.

* "My wife is pretty pumped about this whole deal," said Jones, who dished off the story of the day, that his wife played basketball with Ben's sister and someone was in someone else's wedding and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

* But, will Ben want to mentor this guy!?

* "It's really not his duty to do that," said Kevin Colbert at the end of the weekend. And I was thinking that was more about Colbert's attitude toward a media that's way-too-queer for Ben Roethlisberger drama than it was a comment on Roethlisberger.

* If you try to look for a combine time on fifth-round pick Terry Hawthorne, you might find two: 4.34 and 4.44. I asked Lake which was the accurate time and he said "low 4.4s."

* The best part about drafting Hawthorne was that it brought Lake back into the room.

* "He has all the physical tools," Lake said. "He is big. He is fast. He doesn't mind tackling. And he can play press coverage well, kind of in the same way as an Ike Taylor."

* Nicknamed "Black Cat," Hawthorne is a big, fast and physical corner who was drafted so late, Lake said, because of his raw technique.

* About being drafted so late, Hawthorne said, "Of course I have a chip on my shoulder."

* And Steelers fans smiled.

* "I would like to hone those skills and get him in the lab and really work with him on those things," Lake said with the kind of confidence that has to make a fan feel better about the loss of Keenan Lewis.

* I mean, if you have a guy who can teach so well, and what seems to be one deep class of cornerbacks after another anymore, why not let Lewis go?

* Then again, what about Curtis Brown? He didn't show much at the end of his second season. Why hasn't Lake turned him around?

* Lake talked about the injuries that have shortened both of Brown's training camps, and then said: "We're hoping that Curtis can turn the corner right now. I have a lot of hope for Curtis. I think he has all the physical tools as well. Curtis' opportunity, at least in my own opinion, is to come on strong this year, and I think he can do it."

* Since I don't watch as much Penn State football as the typical Pennsylvanian, I don't know much about Justin Brown. But the sixth-round pick was the cause of the first Pittsburgh media appearance of Richard "Terence" Mann, the new WRs coach who was NOT, it turns out, in the movie "Field of Dreams."

* No, that's not his nickname, but just in case I ever mess it up I want you to remember my excuse.

* Mann reminds me of tight ends coach James Daniel in appearance and demeanor.

* When I found out the 6-3, 209-pound Brown returned 71 punts in his college career (9.0 avg.), I asked Mann about Brown's chances with the team in that capacity. The new, and veteran, assistant coach gave a predictable response: "I have no idea. I don't even deal with that part of it. I've got my problems with them formationally and with routes. I mean, he's got a lot of speed but I haven't even looked at that part of it. Seriously."

* Some coaches make great foot soldiers.

* Mann did say that Brown "is a big guy who can lock up on the safeties and dig them out when it's colder up here and we have to run it."

* It brought to mind a quote from scout-turned-TV analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who said that none of the three teams which employed him ever talked about a wide receiver's blocking ability before a draft. Of course, Jeremiah never worked in Pittsburgh.

* Vince Williams started 26 of Florida State's 27 games the last two seasons at middle linebacker, but the only play I can remember – and only barely, at that – was one during Senior Bowl week that made Mayock, Davis and Company stop and say Whoa! "That was a guard," Williams said as he shook my memory. "I just treated him like a speed bump."

* Williams gave a good interview. He came off as a bright guy who's captain-capable some day as a buck inside linebacker.

* James Farrior often joked in his later years that he was still learning Dick LeBeau's complex defense. Here's what Williams said about it: "The coaches were going over it (during his pre-draft visit). It's really a beautiful thing when you start to break it down and look at it."

* LB coach Keith Butler said last year that he stood up on the table and shouted for Dont'a Hightower in the first round but was ignored. Butler made a similar comment to open his appearance after Williams was drafted. "If they had done what I felt like doing, we would have taken one [a linebacker] in the second round. As I told them, last time we picked first and second with linebacker we won the Super Bowl two years later. We didn't go to it, we won it. I tried to make that argument. It didn't work."

* When I brought up Williams' Senior Bowl hit to Butler, he said: "He will hit you. There are two things you can't teach linebackers in this league. One of them is how fast are you going to be? And the other one is will you hit somebody?"

* Butler surprisingly commented on the development, or lack thereof, of a previous top pick at another position. "Ziggy Hood has some technical stuff that John [Mitchell] has to work with him on. And John knows about that so we're going to try to get those things clarified and work that out and hopefully we'll be good against the run."

* Did they say Nick Williams was from Samford?

* Wait, I think they're saying Stanford.

* No, OK, it's Samford.

* And to think my worry coming into this seventh-round pick was whether Michael Mauti would have it out with Justin Brown in the locker room.

* That's an inside joke for Penn State fans.

* Apparently, Mitch has been sizing up Williams pick since his friend Pat Sullivan began telling Mitch about him "for about a year."

* Sullivan won the Heisman Trophy as the Auburn QB in 1971, the year Mitchell became a starting DE at Alabama.

* Williams, a project in the Steve McLendon mold, is the product of what most likely was a violent first meeting.

* Mitchell promised that Williams is "not going to come in here and replace anybody. He is probably not going to play. He is a project. But," Mitchell said, "you can't get guys that are 6-4, 320 pounds who can run."

* So I scrambled for my combine numbers and, yep, Williams measured 6-4½, 309 and ran a 4.94 40 with a vertical jump of 33 inches and a broad jump of 9-3.

* Only two other 300-pounders at the combine – offensive linemen Terron Armstead (306) and Lane Johnson (303) – topped either Williams' 40 time or vertical jump, and they topped both.

* Of the combine participants weighing 309 or more, only 313-pound offensive lineman Kyle Long matched Williams' 40 time. None bettered it.

* And not one of the 309-plus behemoths matched or bettered Williams' vertical or broad jump. Only 310-pound Josh Boyd bettered both Williams' three-cone (7.55) and short shuttle (4.65) times.

* Now that's the kind of athlete you like to see drafted in the seventh round.


Steel City Insider Top Stories