Dismal second day

The weekend began with the promise of a franchise quarterback and a shutdown cornerback, but deteriorated into a Who's Who from the world of college football.<br><br> It's the nature of draft weekend, but the Steelers' haul from the second day of the draft appears particularly dismal.

The Steelers said goodbye to Jason Gildon with the drafting of Virginia Tech defensive end Nathaniel Adibi in the fifth round, but the project at outside linebacker was the highlight of the day. Here's what the Steelers drafted with their three sixth-round picks:
  • Gay "Bo" Lacy (6-4 3/8, 303), the "other" Arkansas tackle, lined up on the left side opposite Shawn Andrews. "He is a very sharp kid," said Steelers line coach Russ Grimm.
  • Matt Kranchick (6-6, 255), a tight end from Penn State, played wide receiver for three-and-a-half seasons but has only 24 career catches. "He will have to develop as a blocker," said director of operations Kevin Colbert.

  • Drew Caylor (6-5, 288), a center from Stanford, has played only seven games at the position. "He runs very well," Colbert said. "And as a long snapper, he can maybe give you something as a cover guy."

So the Steelers came out of the sixth round Sunday with a smart kid from Arkansas, a fast kid from Stanford and a back-up tight end from the worst Penn State team in over half a century. And he can't block.

The pick in the seventh round made more sense. Eric Taylor (6-2, 302) is a defensive end from Memphis who'll be asked to play both end and nose tackle for the Steelers.

Prior to the draft, Colbert applauded the NFL's decision to expand practice-squad rosters from five to eight. Yesterday he appeared determined to make use of the rule, perhaps at the expense of the 53-man active roster.

"A lot of these kids have that term we like to use, that upside," Colbert said. "A lot of these players aren't finished as players."

Not until September, anyway.

Adibi is one player drafted Sunday who's a virtual cinch to make the team.

"We are not going to bring Jason back," Cowher re-iterated Sunday when asked about Gildon, the team's all-time sacks leader.

Gildon's departure will leave a hole on the second-team depth chart opposite Alonzo Jackson, and Adibi was drafted to fill it.

A 6-3 1/8, 255-pounder from Virginia Tech, Adibi is a workout warrior who's started 44 games and recorded 20.5 sacks. He also blocked two kicks at Virginia Tech, one against Pitt in 2002.

"He has nice size, runs a 4.6, is a good pass-rusher and will begin to learn to play linebacker," Colbert said.

The Steelers have had some luck in turning defensive ends into linebackers. Gildon, in fact, was a defensive end at Oklahoma State. Greg Lloyd and Joey Porter were defensive ends in college. So was Jackson, but the jury remains out on his conversion to linebacker. The Steelers also gave up on one-time third-round pick Mike Vrabel, who's become a Super Bowl hero for the New England Patriots.

"In these types of projections," said Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler, "the hardest thing for them is adjusting to formations they will see in this league. If you consider a defensive end in college, he really only sees an offensive tackle and a tight end. That is all he sees, and that is all he has to see. He is going to have to see the formations now in this league and adjust a little bit and also drop in coverage, which he has shown he can do in his workouts at Virginia Tech."

Adibi will play behind Clark Haggans, another converted defensive end who hopes to become the first post-second round player drafted by Colbert to become a starter with the Steelers.

The first pick of the sixth round, Lacy, was noticed by Grimm while watching film of Andrews. Lacy was a two-year starter at left tackle who'll be asked to play both tackle and guard with the Steelers.

"A lot of times, when you play on a team that has a tackle like Shawn Andrews," said Grimm, "everybody stares at him and sometimes the other guys get overlooked.

"(Lacy)'s from the old school. He missed three practices in his college career. He did not have any injuries. He shows up every day to work. He is a blue-collar kid and that is what you need."

Kranchick, of Carlisle, started his career at Penn State as a wide receiver, but after gaining 45 pounds was moved to tight end as a senior.

"He's an interesting kid," Colbert said. "He runs a 4.6 and has good receiving skills."

Caylor is yet another project. A defensive end at Stanford, he was moved to offense as a senior and split time between tackle and center before taking over the starting center job for the final seven games. As a long-snapper, Caylor averages 0.75 seconds per snap, a fraction over the NFL average.

With the pick of Taylor in the seventh round, the draft concluded without the Steelers selecting a running back, which had been one of Cowher's stated goals.

After the Steelers chose Adibi in the fifth round, runners such as Michael Turner and Thomas Tapeh came off the board.

Amid the three-pick sixth round, the Steelers lost out on Troy Fleming and Adimchinobe Echemandu.

After making his final pick of the weekend, Cowher was asked about finding another running back. As he was answering with "we'll have to go back and check; we're still looking", Quincy Wilson's name flashed across the TV screen after being selected by Miami.

Later in the seventh round, runners Derrick Ward, Bruce Perry and Brandon Miree were drafted, leaving the Steelers without much to choose from in the free-agent pool.

"We feel good about the group we have," Cowher said with a shrug.

He can feel good about his full practice squad as well.

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