Wilson: Grading the graders

The end of the NFL draft can only mean one thing: It's time to pass out some draft grades. Blogger Ryan Wilson takes a stroll around the internet to see how the hometown team made out.

After Mr. Irrelevant is announced and Mel Kiper goes back in his coffin for the summer, there remains an empty hole that we futilely hope to fill with draft report cards. To call them worthless would be unfair to truly worthless stuff like Skip Bayless columns and Lisa Guerrero sideline reports, but what else are we supposed to do, watch the NBA playoffs? I'll pass. Instead, I read them, and I read them again. And then after my little stroll around the internets to see what all the Monday Morning Armchair Draft Gurus had to say about the Pittsburgh Steelers, I thought I'd share the best with you.

... SI.com's Don Banks doesn't pass out letter grades, but he does list his winners and losers:

"...On the flip side of the Giants-Steelers, Pittsburgh had to surrender three picks to move up a measly seven spots. Ohio State receiver Santonio Holmes better be more than the next Antwaan Randle El for that price. He better be a Lynn Swann knockoff."

Banks makes a great point. The Steelers would have been well-advised to use all 10 of their picks even though there's absolutely no way that many new faces will make the team. Instead of actually getting better (hello Santonio Holmes), Pittsburgh should've instead drafted guys who would've been easy to cut come training camp. No need for competition when you've got Lee Mays on the depth chart, I always say. Banks may not give grades but I do: "F." Solid work.

... Not to be outdone, CBS Sportline.com's Pete Prisco offers these nuggets:

"Best pick: Defensive tackle Orien Harris, the team's fourth-round pick, has first-round skills. Look for the Steelers to get the most out of him.

Worst pick: Second-round pick Anthony Smith looks the part, but he didn't make enough plays at Syracuse. The Steelers might have forced a safety pick looking for a replacement for Chris Hope.

Overall grade: B+. Trading up to get Santonio Holmes in the first round was a heck of a move, and third-round pick Willie Reid will help the return game."

Prisco does give the Steelers a "B+", but how he arrives at that grade is a mystery. He thinks their best pick is an underachieving fourth-rounder, and then argues that their second-rounder "didn't make enough plays" in college. Yep, that seems like a great draft to me. For the record, Smith was a third-round pick and I'd be interested in Prisco's definition of a play-maker. Smith had 14 career interceptions and he blocked six punts in his career.

... In his MMQB column, Peter King wasn't crazy about one player still on the board when the Steelers made their selection:

"Pittsburgh passing on LenDale White. Bill Cowher could have turned this dude into a great player."

Here's a question: Why is it Bill Cowher's responsibility to make sure LenDale White acts like a grown-up? Shouldn't that be LenDale White's responsibility? Instead of starting up a babysitting service, maybe the Steelers should take a player who doesn't require a lot of extra attention. Just a thought.

... FoxSports.com's John Czarnecki gives Pittsburgh a "C". Why? Your guess is as good as mine:

"The Steelers needed a receiver and they boldly moved up in the first round to select the draft's most polished route runner in Ohio State's Santonio Holmes. With the losses of Plaxico Burress and Antwaan Randle-El, the Steelers were looking for a home-run threat. Third-round pick Willie Reid can return kicks while Syracuse safety Anthony Smith is a very good run supporter."

Maybe Czarnecki and Prisco got their grades mixed up.

... Dan Pompei of the Sporting News gives Pittsburgh a "B" but he passed out 20 of them. Doesn't that make them no better than average?

... Yahoo's Charles Robinson has the Steelers down for a "B+":

"High marks – The Steelers addressed virtually every need. They paid a steep price to move up seven spots in the first round, but it netted them arguably the draft's best wideout in Santonio Holmes, who, from merely a receiving standpoint, should be able to fill the void of Antwaan Randle El. Willie Reid can pick up some return duties, too. The Steelers got some value in the later rounds by picking up defensive lineman Orien Harris in the fourth round and quarterback Omar Jacobs in the fifth. Harris could be starting at defensive end by opening day. Safety Anthony Smith provides good depth. Center Marvin Philip and guard Willie Colon replenish the interior O-line with young depth. Low marks – Pittsburgh failed to get a between-the-tackles running back to complement Willie Parker. The Steelers didn't address depth at inside linebacker, either."

Hard to argue with Robinson's assessment. I don't like to do this, but I'm giving him an "A."

... MSNBC's Ron Borges (a.k.a. The Scourge of New England Sports Fans) has only good things to say about the Steelers and gives them a "B":

"When you're drafting last it's never easy to help yourself but the Steelers did. They needed to replace receiver Antwaan Randle El both as a receiver and a return man. It took them two men to do it but they pulled it off with Ohio State's Santonio Holmes. And return specialist Willie Reed. Throw in safety Anthony Smith for depth and it's a solid draft."

... SteelCityInsider.com favorite Rick Gosselin offers this (along with "C" draft grade):

"The Super Bowl champs were the only team afforded the luxury of drafting for need. They replaced the free-agent defections of Chris Hope at safety (Smith) and Antwaan Randle El as a wideout (Holmes) and punt returner (Reid)."

A recurring theme throughout all of these draft report cards is that the grades seem to be haphazardly assigned, and usually have nothing to do with the accompanying commentary. Apparently, coherence, insight and thoughtfulness are optional during report card season. Which seems, well, ironic.

... Last, but certainly not least is SI.com's Dr. Z (Last, meet Least). He too gives the Steelers a "B":

"...Big needs were at WR for the departed Antwaan Randle El and FS for the loss of Chris Hope. So the first two drafts were Santonio Holmes, one of the top two or three wideouts, and FS Anthony Smith, not a burner but a guy with a great instinctive feel for the game."

So what does all this mean? Well, as best I can tell, nothing. Pittsburgh racked up two B+'s, three B's and two C's and I'm no closer to knowing how this rookie class will pan out than I was Sunday evening. Of course that didn't keep me from reading every last article I could get my hands on, but that's beside the point. Now how many days until training camp?

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