Another 11th pick prediction

It's nice to see that everyone else is catching up to what we've known on this site for quite a while now: The Steelers love North Carolina State quarterback Phillip Rivers. The question now is, do they love him enough to take him with the 11th pick in the draft?

In a word, yes.

Rivers is exactly the kind of quarterback head coach Bill Cowher prefers to run the offense he likes to employ. Namely, a heady leader who can convert a third-and-five after the running backs have picked up five yards on the first two downs.

And Rivers isn't mistake-prone. He reads defenses extremely well thanks, at least in part, to the fact he's a coach's son and has spent his entire life around the game.'s Jim Wexell laid out last week why he feels the Steelers will take cornerback Dunta Robinson with the 11th pick. And everything he wrote made sense.

But there are some other variables involved here.

Quarterback Tommy Maddox's agent is throwing out signals that he and his client are preparing to play hardball with the Steelers in an attempt to get Maddox's contract re-worked.

And Cowher has a close relationship to North Carolina State head coach Chuck Amato, who was Cowher's position coach when he played for the Wolfpack back in the '70s.

The drafting of a young QB in the first round would be a clear sign to Maddox that he should toe the line and get his butt into training camp on time. When teams use high draft picks on young quarterbacks, they usually like to see them play. And Rivers, who was a four-year starter at N.C. State, is as ready to play right away as much as any quarterback in this draft.

Add to that the fact that veteran Charlie Batch is also on the roster and could be used to bridge the gap if Rivers isn't ready to play right away.

That wouldn't give Maddox much leverage and Cowher's relationship with Amato gives the Steelers an insight into Rivers few others have. They know everything about this guy. The fact that Amato loves him tells Cowher all he needs to know about Rivers.

Believe me, there are plenty of coaches who won't go to bat for outgoing players – such as what happened with Walt Harris' staff at Pitt two years ago with Antonio Bryant.

While Wex's pick of Robinson would make sense for the Steelers, so too would a pick of Rivers.

In fact, I can guarantee that when they do their many mock drafts in the coming weeks, they will have themselves taking both of those players at various times to see who might possibly fall to them in the second round.

If they find they don't like Virginia's Matt Schaub or Tulane's J.P. Losman as a fallback option at quarterback, Rivers will be their pick.

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