Answer Man

The Answer Man comments on various players the Steelers might draft in the first round. He also makes a surprising prediction.

JW: So, what do you expect this weekend from the Pittsburgh Steelers?

AM: Well, I don't think they're going to make 10 picks. Making 10 picks means you're drafting guys to cut them. This whole draft-on-the-second-day-for-the-practice-squad idea, if they're any good they get picked off by other teams. If you look at them as currency, the best use of the currency at this particular time would be to make about six picks. So trade wherever you think you need to go to get guys who can make your team, contribute in some way. That would be the first thing -- I don't think they're going to make 10 picks. Kevin said earlier the price may be a little higher to trade because you're so low, well if that's what it is you have the extra picks to do some of those things. That would be the one thing. There's also this factor: Except for quarterback, there is not a position where you say ‘I don't need any help,' but you also don't have to pick somebody to play Sept. 7. So you're in that kind of situation where you have no immediate needs but you have a lot of depth needs.

JW: As you say, a guy like LenDale White wouldn't need to come back from his injury to play Sept. 7. Do you see LenDale White coming here?

AM: I don't know what other teams think of LenDale White. Judged on what I have seen of him as a player, it seems to me there's almost a concerted effort to talk bad about him to try and drop him down. There may be some of that going on with him. Maybe some teams at 20-25 are hoping he falls and they're the source of a lot of this bad talk about this guy. I think if LenDale White is sitting there 32nd, this team will think very long and hard about picking him, and I personally think it would be a pretty good pick.

JW: You were also talking about dealing draft picks, but where they're sitting, it doesn't appear as if it would be advantageous to trade up. There really aren't any gems that I can see, no must-haves.

AM: No, there are no must-haves. But let's pretend. You brought him up, so we'll use LenDale White. If you could go up to 24 from 32 to pick him, if something happens and he pulls a Larry Johnson, who was picked 27th, so if you're in that area and you can throw one of those extra fourths to move up six, seven spots to get a guy like that, I think that's a good move. And the other thing is: 22 to 32 is not a big salary-cap difference. It's certainly not big enough that it's going to make this team think twice about doing it, whereas some other teams that either want more picks or are more strapped against the cap may want to look to get down.

JW: LenDale White's a perfect example of what I'm talking about: There isn't a stud up there worth trading up there for. They all have flaws, and White is injured and has a questionable work ethic.

AM: That's what you say – "a questionable work ethic." I don't know, and that's my whole point about this guy. It's the same thing with Vince Young: All of the sudden he's so stupid. For being stupid, he won a lot of games at Texas.

JW: But there's also a question about his passing ability and mechanics. With LenDale White, there are questions. If you trade up you want to trade up for a plum, like Troy Polamalu and Kendrell Bell, and those were to fix emergencies.

AM: The Polamalu thing, three-quarters through his rookie year there were still questions about this guy. I think at this time there are a lot of questions, and I don't believe anybody. I really don't.

JW: LenDale White doesn't run outside, either. There are questions about him.

AM: Two of the things I heard about him are, to counter this: very smart football, drawing on the board, recognizing things that are drawn on the board; and the best pass-blocker of all the top guys. Now, in this offense, you've got to have that because keeping Roethlisberger upright is as important as having receivers to catch the ball for him. I don't know. There's a diversity of opinion on the guy, but if they gave up an extra fourth to move up a little bit to get this guy, I think it'll be a good pick.

JW: Disregarding the amount of picks in hand, wouldn't trading down be the better move? Or do you discount that because of all the extra picks?

AM: I don't think you want any extra picks. I can't see what's going to happen, so maybe what you're suggesting could be the right thing to do, but right now, unless you're going to get picks next year, I just don't want to draft guys to cut them. I don't want to do other team's work for them; bring these guys into camp, teach them a little bit about how to play the game, showcase them a little bit, and then they end up with Cleveland.

JW: You'd mentioned keeping Roethlisberger upright, and one way is to improve the running game. Is that on their minds?

AM: That could be LenDale White. Running back to me is a position like linebacker. It doesn't appear to have a lot of openings, but I don't think they're solid there, in terms of depth. Duce? What's he going to be? Is he the guy who played the first seven games of 04, or is he the guy since? I don't know what Duce is. Willie Parker, as dynamic a weapon as he turned out to be, I still don't think you want to give him the ball 400 times a year. You keep five and you've got Duce, Verron Haynes, Willie Parker and Dan Kreider, so what do you want a running back for? Well, you may need one, and you may need one who can contribute right now, this year, in spots or maybe in a modified role, so, yeah. The other guy I kind of like is Joseph Addai of LSU. He's smaller, but the things that are important here are knowing the game and a willingness to pick up linebackers. Those two guys are above and beyond the others.

JW: I just read that Maurice Drew is a very good blocker. But at 5-foot-6, do you throw him out?

AM: Yeah. He may be very willing, but I mean 5-6 at this level is 5-6.

JW: Do you throw him out of the second round?

AM: I don't know. I'm not ruling him out, I just, I don't know. I've got visions of Amos in my head and it frightens me. I don't know enough about him like I do the other two. I don't think you draft a running back just to draft one, but this draft, more so now because of the reasons I said earlier, you've got to pick your board, and you've got to pick your board two full days, not just one day; no Drew Caylors, no Bo Laceys, no Nathaniel Adibis, no Rian Wallaces. You've got to pick guys who are at the top of whatever position it happens to be on your total value board. You really don't have positions where you need numbers, so if you're not adding quality players they're just going to get cut anyway, so what's the point?

JW: Do you have a feeling this is going to be a very good draft because of that?

AM: I'm hoping. I'm hoping. I believe in different philosophies based on where you're picking. When you're picking 11th, you need a dynamic player at a dynamic position. If the tackle and the quarterback are the same, you've got to pick a quarterback because he's a quarterback. At the end of a round, if you have an opportunity to pick the best player, or close to the best player, at a position – center, maybe safety – you go for that like you did last year at tight end. If you can add a guy, who is a top prospect or the top prospect at a position, than I think that is a better value than the seventh receiver.

JW: That leads us into Nick Mangold. What do you think of him?

AM: I don't really know enough about him, but he is a consensus guy. Now, everybody can't be wrong.

JW: Do you draft a third-team center?

AM: Well, he's third team for this September. Next September he could end up being first team. I don't know that, but I think that at any position, except quarterback, first round, if he's the best guy, pick him.

JW: They brought a lot of safeties in. If Whitner's gone, if Jason Allen's gone, do you settle for Darnell Bing?

AM: I don't think you reach for anything.

JW: I didn't say he was a reach.

AM: I'm not either. All I'm saying is you've got to trust the work you did and pick your board.

JW: What if a 4-3 end like Tamba Hali's there?

AM: I'll tell you what will hurt him – and I know I say this in the age of political correctness – he's not an American. They went down that road, and those guys don't get it. I mean, you grew up in Cameroon or you grew up in Liberia or wherever, God love you for pulling yourself out of that sh*thole and making something of your life, but when it comes down to this sport, if you didn't grow up with it, you don't get it. You don't get it. The commitment you have to make, you don't get it. Maybe you're too smart and you look at it with logic. I mean, why would you want to put your body through that kind of abuse? It doesn't mean what it does to a kid from Ohio or Texas. So I don't pick him. I really believe in that, that guys from foreign countries do not have the inherent passion that a No. 1 pick has to have.

JW: OK, so what's your prediction? You've got to write a column and make a prediction.

AM: And pick a guy?

JW: Yeah, just like a writer making a prediction.

AM: LenDale White. If he's there at 32, I think there is not a better value. I'm going to predict they're going to go up to get somebody. Now who that is? I don't know. It could be Jason Allen. It could be LenDale White. It could be Santonio Holmes. It could be Whitner. I think that this is a draft that's similar to 03 in this sense that they're going to be willing to give up numbers for individuals, and they've positioned themselves perfectly. I think all the stars are aligning with the way the roster is – no holes for Sept. 7 and yet they need depth everywhere – so this is kind of perfect for that.


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