Steelers draft 2010: Receiver

SteelCityInsider.com publisher Jim Wexell's draft series on the Pittsburgh Steelers continues today with the running back position.

The last straw for Plaxico Burress in Pittsburgh occurred in the spring of 2004 when he missed the mandatory minicamp without telling anyone, and then went on to miss the voluntary O.T.A. sessions as well.

Burress called Coach Bill Cowher "inconsiderate" for scheduling minicamp on Mother's Day weekend, particularly since Burress's mother had died two years earlier.

"I didn't feel I had to explain anything to them or the owners for any reason," Burress said that spring.

And so the media spent the next six weeks speculating as to what Cowher would do to punish Burress at training camp. Would he fine him? Would he demote him? Would he have the nerve to trade him?

Cowher did none of the above.

"Everyone has choices to make," Cowher explained a few days before the start of camp, "and there are consequences with each choice. And you move on."

Well, the Steelers moved on without the 6-5+ deep threat who averaged 19.9 yards per catch as rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger's go-to receiver during that 15-1 season. Burress's contract expired the following March and the Steelers let him go without an offer, although personnel chief Kevin Colbert did say at the time that he'd like to have him back.

A similar scenario is unfolding for Burress's eventual replacement at split end, Santonio Holmes. Holmes's contract will expire next March, and it's been said the Rooneys' patience with him has expired this season.

A string of incidents that began during Holmes's first spring with the team continued this past month with an alleged altercation at a nightclub that was followed by a series of curious remarks on twitter that had to raise eyebrows in the front office.

With ownership already furious with Ben Roethlisberger's poor judgment, the sentiment running through the media right now is that Holmes will pay the price come contract time and will leave the team next March. But, as with Burress, the loss will be felt by Colbert and Coach Mike Tomlin. Holmes has developed into a terrific route-runner and gives Roethlisberger two legitimate deep threats (Mike Wallace the other) to open up the field for Hines Ward and Heath Miller. And once Holmes backs DBs off the line, he's able to burn them with slants, a route the top receiving prospect in this year's draft, Dez Bryant, has already stated "is not for me."

Bryant visited the Steelers this week, but it's unlikely the team will spend a first-round pick on a player who holds the same promise of off-the-field problems that forced the departure of Burress and possibly Holmes.

Bryant (6-1.4, 224, 4.55) forgot his cleats and then performed poorly at his Pro Day after skipping the combine and missing his junior season on suspension.

The Steelers' interest in big receivers such as Bryant, Arrelious Benn, Carlton Mitchell, Joe Webb and Donald Jones, as well as speedy split end Emmanuel Sanders, occurred after the team signed slot receivers Antwaan Randle El and Arnaz Battle in free agency.

Before those signings, the Steelers had met with college slot receivers Golden Tate and Andre Roberts. However, the need in the slot has apparently been met and the value board below will reflect that.

As for the other top-ranked receivers, Demaryius Thomas is too raw (and injured) to be picked 18th and too talented to last until the second round; Benn is coming off a lackluster season (lousy quarterback) and looked stiff and rock-handed at the combine; and Brandon LaFell disappointed as a senior at LSU.

The Steelers already have five tight ends on their extended roster and Colbert has said twice that he's not interested in adding another, although the team did host local prep star Rob Gronkowski earlier this week.

Value Board

Second Round – Golden Tate, Notre Dame.

Fourth Round – Andre Roberts, The Citadel; Carlton Mitchell, South Florida; Marcus Easley, Connecticut.

Fifth Round -- Emmanuel Sanders, SMU.

Sixth Round – Joe Webb, Alabama-Birmingham.

Seventh Round – Donald Jones, Youngstown State.


Steel City Insider Top Stories