Lolley: Sticking to the formula

The Steelers formula may not be sexy, but it has worked and they stuck by it again in the 2006 draft.

There was a new head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers helping to mold this draft, but in many ways, it was the same old philosophy.

In 2006, the Steelers went into the draft looking for a replacement for departed free-agent wide receiver Antwaan Randle El.

They addressed the position not once, but twice, taking Santonio Holmes in the first round and Willie Reid in the third.

Apparently, the Steelers were happy with how that worked out because they selected a pair of linebackers – to replace Joey Porter – in the first two rounds of this weekend's draft.

But there was more to this draft for the Steelers than just that.

Despite going 8-8 last season, this is a team only one season removed from winning a Super Bowl, and missing only a few starters – Randle El, Porter, Chris Hope and Kimo von Oelhoffen – from that squad.

The window of opportunity should still be open for the Steelers.

With that in mind, they didn't necessarily go into the draft looking for players who will start right away. As they have done over the years, they were drafting with an eye to the future and their aging roster.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.

In top-pick Lawrence Timmons, the Steelers got a player who can serve as a backup to James Harrison at Porter's right outside linebacker position this season, but whose future appears to be at inside linebacker. Considering James Farrior is 32 years old and on the downside of his career, that's not a bad thing.

Taking Timmons gives the Steelers flexibility this season and in the future.

As an outside linebacker in the 3-4, Timmons isn't a great pick. As an inside linebacker, Timmons looks like a young Farrior.

The Steelers also addressed their future at outside linebacker in the second round with LaMarr Woodley, a former defensive end who will help with the pass rush this season and eventually will replace Clark Haggans.

Tight end Matt Spaeth, the third-round pick, provides flexibility. Now the Steelers can more often line up fellow tight end Heath Miller as a wide receiver. Those people who have been clamoring for Miller to catch more passes will no longer be frustrated by seeing him used as a third offensive tackle. Spaeth will push backup tight end Jerame Tuman, who is also on the wrong side of 30, for the second spot.

The only selection made this weekend with next sesason in mind was the fourth rounder. In Dan Sepulveda, the Steelers have a player who will push 36-year-old punter Chris Gardocki to the unemployment line. They had to trade up in the fourth round to do so, but the price – a sixth-round pick – wasn't exorbitant, considering Sepulveda was a two-time Ray Guy Award winner as the nation's best collegiate punter.

The Steelers took players in the later rounds – guard Cameron Stephenson, cornerback William Gay and wide receiver Dallas Baker – who might not help this season, but should contribute in future years, which is all you can ask from late-round picks.

Like many of Pittsburgh's drafts, this one might not be considered sexy. But it's hard to argue with what the Steelers do on draft weekend.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\nThere was a new head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers helping to mold this draft, but in many ways, it was the same old philosophy.\r\n\r\n

In 2006, the Steelers went into the draft looking for a replacement for departed free-agent wide receiver Antwaan Randle El.\r\n\r\n

They addressed the position not once, but twice, taking Santonio Holmes in the first round and Willie Reid in the third.\r\n\r\n

Apparently, the Steelers were happy with how that worked out because they selected a pair of linebackers – to replace Joey Porter – in the first two rounds of this weekend's draft.\r\n\r\n

But there was more to this draft for the Steelers than just that.\r\n\r\n

Despite going 8-8 last season, this is a team only one season removed from winning a Super Bowl, and missing only a few starters – Randle El, Porter, Chris Hope and Kimo von Oelhoffen – from that squad.\r\n\r\n

The window of opportunity should still be open for the Steelers.\r\n\r\n

With that in mind, they didn't necessarily go into the draft looking for players who will start right away. As they have done over the years, they were drafting with an eye to the future and their aging roster.\r\n\r\n

That's not necessarily a bad thing.\r\n\r\n

In top-pick Lawrence Timmons, the Steelers got a player who can serve as a backup to James Harrison at Porter's right outside linebacker position this season, but whose future appears to be at inside linebacker. Considering James Farrior is 32 years old and on the downside of his career, that's not a bad thing.\r\n\r\n

Taking Timmons gives the Steelers flexibility this season and in the future.\r\n\r\n

As an outside linebacker in the 3-4, Timmons isn't a great pick. As an inside linebacker, Timmons looks like a young Farrior.\r\n\r\n

The Steelers also addressed their future at outside linebacker in the second round with LaMarr Woodley, a former defensive end who will help with the pass rush this season and eventually will replace Clark Haggans.\r\n\r\n

Tight end Matt Spaeth, the third-round pick, provides flexibility. Now the Steelers can more often line up fellow tight end Heath Miller as a wide receiver. Those people who have been clamoring for Miller to catch more passes will no longer be frustrated by seeing him used as a third offensive tackle.\r\nSpaeth will push backup tight end Jerame Tuman, who is also on the wrong side of 30, for the second spot.\r\n\r\n

The only selection made this weekend with next sesason in mind was the fourth rounder. In Dan Sepulveda, the Steelers have a player who will push 36-year-old punter Chris Gardocki to the unemployment line. They had to trade up in the fourth round to do so, but the price – a sixth-round pick – wasn't exorbitant, considering Sepulveda was a two-time Ray Guy Award winner as the nation's best collegiate punter.\r\n\r\n

The Steelers took players in the later rounds – guard Cameron Stephenson, cornerback William Gay and wide receiver Dallas Baker – who might not help this season, but should contribute in future years, which is all you can ask from late-round picks.\r\n\r\n

Like many of Pittsburgh's drafts, this one might not be considered sexy. But it's hard to argue with what the Steelers do on draft weekend.\r\n\r\n

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