Cowher, Colbert reach impasse
That's the word of a legitimate source, and it makes sense, particularly when we examine the history of how the two wants have grown.
It was a Thursday night in December before the Steelers played the New York Jets and quarterback Chad Pennington, and I had the opportunity to dine with a member of the Steelers' front office.
Big Ben Roethlisberger was on the TV and the topic turned to whether the Steelers could again afford to pass on someone of Pennington's class in the first round.
"You can't pass on the franchise quarterback," the source said. "A wise man told me a long time ago you take the guy who gets the touches: the quarterbacks, the running backs, linebackers, a shutdown corner. Those are the guys who control the game.
"You get a guy like (Ben) Roethlisberger here, he keeps the sticks moving. All of the sudden your line looks better; your defense looks better."
Of course, we knew even then the Steelers had a bigger hole at cornerback than they currently do at quarterback. I brought that up.
"Sure. Everyone wants a shutdown corner," the source said. "Just tell me where they are."
This from a guy who knew at the time Dunta Robinson was rated as a mid to late first-rounder and DeAngelo Hall was still an uncommitted junior.
As the game went on that night, it became obvious (at least then, during the actual playing of the game) that Roethlisberger would be a top-five pick. So I asked him about Rivers.
"Kevin loves Rivers," was all the source needed to say about his boss' feelings.
So ever since that night, when I'd hear the media report the Steelers' like Rivers because he went to Cowher's old school, I'd cringe.
It wasn't Cowher who was enamored of Rivers. It's been Colbert all along, and what I've learned this week backs it up.
But Cowher wants a cornerback. And why not? It IS the biggest hole on the team. Sure, Deshea Townsend moved into the lineup last season and played well. And Chad Scott may as well stick around another year with that salary. And Ike Taylor played well enough as a rookie to claim the No. 3 corner spot. But all of that is dependant upon each playing to his optimum capability.
Now, throw in the fact Taylor is very raw, Scott will have to be replaced in 2005 at the LATEST, and Townsend is slight of build and has never been asked to start an entire pro season, and need becomes very understandable.
Also, an injury leaves the Steelers with even greater question marks, and there's also the NFL's new "point of emphasis" on illegal defensive contact, not to mention an exploding market that allows average corners such as Jason Webster to command a $7 million signing bonus. All of that makes it painfully obvious the Steelers must draft a corner.
Well, it's obvious half the time. As Colbert and those like him are saying the other half of the time, "You can't pass on a franchise quarterback."
So with one week left before the draft, the Steelers are at an impasse. They have eight days to figure it out, but in the meantime they might want to consider the following compromise solution. It was offered to a couple of reporters the other day by one of the team's scouts.
"What I'd like to see," he said, "is DeAngelo Hall staring at us at pick 10 and (New Orleans Coach Jim) Haslett calling us up, since everyone knows he loves Hall. We could trade down if he gave us his second-rounders. Then we could take Shawn Andrews at 18, and Ricardo Colclough and Matt Schaub in the second round. That's what I'd like to see. But nobody's listening to me."
I am, brother. An offensive tackle, a cornerback and the Virginia quarterback fill two immediate needs and the big need for the future. And we're not even into the third round.