Answer Man

JW: Answer Man, you old coot, tell me about the Steelers' draft. What did you think? AM: I liked it -- nothing flashy, just a bunch of tough football players.

JW: Nothing flashy? Well, I guess they could've drafted a home-run hitter in the first instead of a tight end.

AM: Well, they had Roddy White ranked with Miller. But, if both of them were there Miller was still the choice, considering the position. Looking at the rest of the draft, wide receivers could be found later.

JW: My prediction was Reggie Brown. Didn't the Steelers like him?

AM: Oh, yeah. But he's a move-the-chains guy. Roddy's more explosive. He can catch the ball and score touchdowns. You look for something different, something you don't have. They have a bunch of guys who can move the chains. They were looking for a deep threat and that's what Roddy White is.

JW: Fred Gibson, the fourth-round pick, is he that deep threat?

AM: Sure. He could've been the second-round pick. They were fortunate he was there in the fourth. He's faster than what the media's reporting.

JW: I saw that. I had him at 4.41 at his pro day, but wasn't that wind-aided?

AM: Yeah, but it was a wet track and something like 48 degrees, too. I don't care how much wind you have, in those conditions you're cold and your body's not loose. But he's fast. Trust me. You can see it on film.

JW: Is he tough? The rap is he doesn't like going over the middle.

AM: I don't know if I've seen that. He's had drops. They've all had drops. It just depends on how you look at it. If you like the guy, you say he has lapses in concentration. If you don't like him, you say he's not tough.

JW: Back to the first round. What if Miller had already been picked?

AM: Mike Patterson would've been the pick.

JW: Patterson? Isn't he a one-gap defensive tackle?

AM: That's what he played at USC, but they had him projected to nose tackle. He can do what Casey (Hampton) does, but is more effective rushing the passer. He'd have played in sub packages with the Steelers. And you also have to look at contracts. A lot of those defensive linemen are playing in the last year of their contracts.

JW: And after Patterson, I understand they had Bryant McFadden next.

AM: That's true, but it was quite a drop, kind of like the drop to Troy Edwards back in 1999. It would've been the same kind of reach.

JW: They must've been holding their breath hoping he'd slip to the second round.

AM: They still had the offensive lineman there. They had five guys they liked, and that's the ideal situation, but sure having McFadden there was the ideal.

JW: Who was the offensive lineman?

AM: Trai Essex.

JW: That's right. Essex had a first-round grade. The other teams and the draft geeks seem to think differently.

AM: Everyone sees the draft differently.

JW: Essex had horrible combine numbers. Didn't they matter?

AM: Yes, but did you ever watch him pull? Ever watch him come off the ball? That's the bottom line. Plus he can play three positions. That's a lot of value, particularly on game day. Plus he's a good left tackle.

JW: The Steelers passed on guys like Darryl Blackstock and Elton Brown. I think that's what upset the critics.

AM: Boy, you guys in the media didn't get that right. Blackstock can't play. He can't cover. He can't stop the run. He's soft.

JW: What about Brown?

AM: He's good, but he can't play the two positions.

JW: While I'm sliding on this slippery report, what about the Ravens' draft?

AM: Trading up for Adam Terry was a mistake. They could've drafted him in the fourth. I like Dan Cody though. I like him as a 3-4 outside guy too.

JW: That's what the Steelers missed in this draft, a pass rusher. It makes sense they're talking to Chad Brown now. Where would he play?

AM: Anywhere he wants. You don't want to anoint anybody, but on game day it's great to have a guy who can play everywhere. You're a better ball club. And in the playoffs, when you need a little heat on a guy like Tom Brady, it's nice to have a Chad Brown around.

JW: Rian Wallace is the only linebacker the Steelers drafted. What's his story?

AM: He's another athletic kid who plays faster than he times. He can hit. He might not be a guy who takes on blockers but he hits. He's an inside guy who'll provide good back-up and may develop. He's another solid player. That's what I like about this draft. It's very solid. There might not be anyone you say 'Oh wow!' about, but it's a solid draft.

JW: Doesn't the sixth-rounder, Chris Kemoeatu, have 'Oh wow!' potential?

AM: He dropped because he's dinged a little bit and people say he has a learning problem. I think it's more of a language problem. But he is beat up a bit. He's a great value in the sixth round though, and he could develop into an exciting player.

JW: What about the anger management issues?

AM: Well, he kicked two players. One of them was payback from the previous play. The other team's linebacker cheap-shotted the center. On the next play Chris paid him back. It's not right, but you have to like his motive.

JW: OK, into the seventh round, what about Shaun Nua? Is he a shot in the dark?

AM: He wasn't at the combine or on any of the lists, but he played well in the Las Vegas Classic. He has quick feet, weight potential and is a tough guy who rushes the passer. Guys like that tend to affect the course of games. You can't have enough of those guys.

JW: And Noah Herron?

AM: He's a tweener, a big back who may be a two-position player too. I don't know if he'll ever be a starter, but you have to worry about Verron Haynes' knees. You have to groom somebody.

JW: Do you like any of the undrafted free agents?

AM: Both fullbacks. One or both will make the club in some form or another. The guy from Tiffin (Nate Washington) might be a surprise. I like Andre Frazier from Cincinnati, too, as an outside linebacker. He might be another (Dedrick) Roper.

JW: We didn't talk much about Heath Miller. I know he's not a Tony Gonzalez type, but he's been compared to guys like Mark Bavaro. Is that a fair comparison?

AM: Bavaro? He could be. That's a close comparison. Bavaro could block and catch. He wasn't flashy but he had great hands. You might want to say Heath's a pass-catching Mark Bruener who gives them another dimension. When you line up in your base offense and slide him out wide, either a linebacker or a safety has to cover him. When you have a safety on a 6-5 guy you have a mismatch without bringing in one of your sub-packages.

JW: So your overall assessment?

AM: Very solid group. I wouldn't be surprised if six or seven or all of them make the team in some fashion. And the ones who don't make it will be on someone else's practice squad because they're all solid players. They're all football players with some nastiness. They're tough guys who fit in with what the Steelers do. It's one of the best drafts the Steelers have had in a long time.


Steel City Insider Top Stories

JW: Nothing flashy? Well, I guess they could've drafted a home-run hitter in the first instead of a tight end.\r\n

AM: Well, they had Roddy White ranked with Miller. But, if both of them were there Miller was still the choice, considering the position. Looking at the rest of the draft, wide receivers could be found later.\r\n

JW: My prediction was Reggie Brown. Didn't the Steelers like him?\r\n

AM: Oh, yeah. But he's a move-the-chains guy. Roddy's more explosive. He can catch the ball and score touchdowns. You look for something different, something you don't have. They have a bunch of guys who can move the chains. They were looking for a deep threat and that's what Roddy White is.\r\n

JW: Fred Gibson, the fourth-round pick, is he that deep threat?\r\n

AM: Sure. He could've been the second-round pick. They were fortunate he was there in the fourth. He's faster than what the media's reporting.\r\n

JW: I saw that. I had him at 4.41 at his pro day, but wasn't that wind-aided?\r\n

AM: Yeah, but it was a wet track and something like 48 degrees, too. I don't care how much wind you have, in those conditions you're cold and your body's not loose. But he's fast. Trust me. You can see it on film.\r\n

JW: Is he tough? The rap is he doesn't like going over the middle.\r\n

AM: I don't know if I've seen that. He's had drops. They've all had drops. It just depends on how you look at it. If you like the guy, you say he has lapses in concentration. If you don't like him, you say he's not tough.\r\n

JW: Back to the first round. What if Miller had already been picked?\r\n

AM: Mike Patterson would've been the pick.\r\n

JW: Patterson? Isn't he a one-gap defensive tackle?\r\n

AM: That's what he played at USC, but they had him projected to nose tackle. He can do what Casey (Hampton) does, but is more effective rushing the passer. He'd have played in sub packages with the Steelers. And you also have to look at contracts. A lot of those defensive linemen are playing in the last year of their contracts.\r\n

JW: And after Patterson, I understand they had Bryant McFadden next.\r\n

AM: That's true, but it was quite a drop, kind of like the drop to Troy Edwards back in 1999. It would've been the same kind of reach.\r\n

JW: They must've been holding their breath hoping he'd slip to the second round.\r\n

AM: They still had the offensive lineman there. They had five guys they liked, and that's the ideal situation, but sure having McFadden there was the ideal.\r\n

JW: Who was the offensive lineman?\r\n

AM: Trai Essex.\r\n

JW: That's right. Essex had a first-round grade. The other teams and the draft geeks seem to think differently.\r\n

AM: Everyone sees the draft differently.\r\n

JW: Essex had horrible combine numbers. Didn't they matter?\r\n

AM: Yes, but did you ever watch him pull? Ever watch him come off the ball? That's the bottom line. Plus he can play three positions. That's a lot of value, particularly on game day. Plus he's a good left tackle.\r\n

JW: The Steelers passed on guys like Darryl Blackstock and Elton Brown. I think that's what upset the critics.\r\n

AM: Boy, you guys in the media didn't get that right. Blackstock can't play. He can't cover. He can't stop the run. He's soft.\r\n

JW: What about Brown?\r\n

AM: He's good, but he can't play the two positions.\r\n

JW: While I'm sliding on this slippery report, what about the Ravens' draft?\r\n

AM: Trading up for Adam Terry was a mistake. They could've drafted him in the fourth. I like Dan Cody though. I like him as a 3-4 outside guy too. \r\n

JW: That's what the Steelers missed in this draft, a pass rusher. It makes sense they're talking to Chad Brown now. Where would he play?\r\n

AM: Anywhere he wants. You don't want to anoint anybody, but on game day it's great to have a guy who can play everywhere. You're a better ball club. And in the playoffs, when you need a little heat on a guy like Tom Brady, it's nice to have a Chad Brown around.\r\n

JW: Rian Wallace is the only linebacker the Steelers drafted. What's his story?\r\n

AM: He's another athletic kid who plays faster than he times. He can hit. He might not be a guy who takes on blockers but he hits. He's an inside guy who'll provide good back-up and may develop. He's another solid player. That's what I like about this draft. It's very solid. There might not be anyone you say 'Oh wow!' about, but it's a solid draft.\r\n

JW: Doesn't the sixth-rounder, Chris Kemoeatu, have 'Oh wow!' potential?\r\n

AM: He dropped because he's dinged a little bit and people say he has a learning problem. I think it's more of a language problem. But he is beat up a bit. He's a great value in the sixth round though, and he could develop into an exciting player.\r\n

JW: What about the anger management issues?\r\n

AM: Well, he kicked two players. One of them was payback from the previous play. The other team's linebacker cheap-shotted the center. On the next play Chris paid him back. It's not right, but you have to like his motive.\r\n

JW: OK, into the seventh round, what about Shaun Nua? Is he a shot in the dark?\r\n

AM: He wasn't at the combine or on any of the lists, but he played well in the Las Vegas Classic. He has quick feet, weight potential and is a tough guy who rushes the passer. Guys like that tend to affect the course of games. You can't have enough of those guys.\r\n

JW: And Noah Herron?\r\n

AM: He's a tweener, a big back who may be a two-position player too. I don't know if he'll ever be a starter, but you have to worry about Verron Haynes' knees. You have to groom somebody.\r\n

JW: Do you like any of the undrafted free agents?\r\n

AM: Both fullbacks. One or both will make the club in some form or another. The guy from Tiffin (Nate Washington) might be a surprise. I like Andre Frazier from Cincinnati, too, as an outside linebacker. He might be another (Dedrick) Roper.\r\n

JW: We didn't talk much about Heath Miller. I know he's not a Tony Gonzalez type, but he's been compared to guys like Mark Bavaro. Is that a fair comparison?\r\n

AM: Bavaro? He could be. That's a close comparison. Bavaro could block and catch. He wasn't flashy but he had great hands. You might want to say Heath's a pass-catching Mark Bruener who gives them another dimension. When you line up in your base offense and slide him out wide, either a linebacker or a safety has to cover him. When you have a safety on a 6-5 guy you have a mismatch without bringing in one of your sub-packages.\r\n

JW: So your overall assessment?\r\n

AM: Very solid group. I wouldn't be surprised if six or seven or all of them make the team in some fashion. And the ones who don't make it will be on someone else's practice squad because they're all solid players. They're all football players with some nastiness. They're tough guys who fit in with what the Steelers do. It's one of the best drafts the Steelers have had in a long time.\r\n

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