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Steelers Blog

Here’s my guess for No. 2

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 27, 2012 – 8:12 pm

My guess, and it’s strictly a guess, as to which way the Steelers might go with their second round pick:

Bobby Massie, an offensive tackle from Mississippi.

I have been wrong before.

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Draft becoming must-see TV

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 27, 2012 – 5:05 pm

Make fun of it all you want — and I’ve taken my share of shots over the years — but the NFL Draft pulls down the ratings for the two networks that televise the event.

According to the overnight ratings just released by The Nielsen Company, the first-round coverage of the 2012 NFL Draft drew a combined total viewership of 25.3 million viewers on  ESPN and NFL Network.

The networks posted a combined average rating of 5.28, which is an all-time high and represents an 18 percent increase over last year’s first round, which drew a 4.46 average rating. The 2011 NFL Draft was the first one to be televised in the three-day format currently in use this weekend.

The combined two network average of 8.1 million viewers also represents a 16 percent increase over 2011, and it now ranks as the second most-watched first round ever, behind only the 8.3 million who watched in 2010.


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They WERE surprised he was there

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 27, 2012 – 2:34 pm

Inevitably, it comes up in the post-pick meetings with the media, when GMs and coaches always seem to make the point that they were very surprised to get an opportunity to pick whomever they ended up picking. And so it was when Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin sat behind the microphones late Thursday night to try to talk about G David DeCastro without giggling.

But there is some evidence that the Steelers really didn’t believe they were going to have a chance to pick DeCastro.

All teams are permitted to bring in up to 30 players for pre-draft visits, and the Steelers took advantage of this by meeting with 28 prospects between March 30 and April 18. Among those 28 were five offensive linemen, but none of those five offensive linemen was named David DeCastro.

Now there’s no rule, official or unofficial, stating that a team is going to make its No. 1 pick from the list of players it brought in for pre-draft visits, but the Steelers’ recent history — at least the years encompassing Tomlin’s time as their coach — shows that they have brought in the guy they ended up taking on the first round. Kicking the tires one last time before buying the car, so to speak.

They didn’t do that with DeCastro, probably because they didn’t figure he would be there for the taking. But once DeCastro was, the Steelers wasted no time, maybe because they legitimately were surprised he was still there.

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Nike was on the ball

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 27, 2012 – 1:29 pm

If you were watching the first round of the draft closely, there was a significant upgrade to the whole photo-op with the commissioner thing going on. It has been going on for years with the players who are on hand in New York City for the draft — after the pick is announced, the player comes onto the stage where he is greeted by the commissioner who immediately produces the appropriate team jersey with the No. 1 on it. Then player, commissioner and team jersey pose for a photo that invariably makes it into every newspaper in the team’s city.

But this year, Nike, which won the contract to be the NFL’s official jersey provider starting with the 2012 season, added the player’s name on the back. So when Jacksonville made a surprise move by trading up to pick WR Justin Blackmon, Roger Goodell posed for the photo with the player while holding up a Jaguars jersey with “Blackmon” across the back. At first glance, I thought, wow, how many variations of Blackmon jerseys did they have stashed away somewhere close to the stage?

Then when Dallas made another surprise move by trading up eight spots to pick CB Morris Claiborne and Goodell met the player with a Cowboys jersey with “Claiborne” across the back, well that was too much of a stretch to believe that mover could have been foreseen.

It seems as though Nike had the machinery on hand to immediately customize the jersey so that the correct team matched up with the correct name, with all of it done perfectly in the correct team colors. Impressive. It’s no guarantee that the team got the pick correct, but it did look nice on TV.

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Quickies from the Tomlin-Colbert presser on DeCastro

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 26, 2012 – 10:46 pm

Kevin Colbert said there were a handful of players the Steelers had targeted as guys they would trade up to get, and that David DeCastro was one of them.

Mike Tomlin said DeCastro is a right guard. He also said, “Everything we would ask him to do, we saw him do at Stanford.”

Another Colbert quote: “David was clearly the guy. Really, the kid is good.”

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It’s DeCastro

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 26, 2012 – 10:21 pm

The Steelers have selected G David DeCastro with their No. 1 pick. In my opinion, they got another Alan Faneca. He should be inserted into the starting lineup from Day 1 and team with Maurkice Pouncey to upgrade significantly the middle of the Steelers offensive line. Great value here. Great value. He’s 6-5, 316. Nasty. Familiar with a pro-style offense. Smart, obviously from Stanford, but football smart as well. Moves very well, maybe the best of all the O-linemen at the combine.

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Interesting options for Steelers

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 26, 2012 – 10:11 pm

Now that New England traded up into the No. 21 slot to select Syracuse DE Chandler Jones, there is only Cleveland and Detroit to go before the Steelers get to make their No. 1 pick — and both G David DeCastro and ILB Dont’a Hightower are still both available. DeCastro falling this far is something the Steelers have to be excited about.

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This year’s uh-oh award …

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 26, 2012 – 9:57 pm

… goes to the Seattle Seahawks, at least so far. The selection of WVU DE Bruce Irvin is the reach of the draft so far. Irvin dropped out of high school for a couple of years, was arrested for robbery and was enrolled at a community college and at Mount San Antonio College before ending up at West Virginia. He was a productive pass rusher in college, but there was little need to pick him 15h overall.

Another good trend for Steelers fans hoping for their favorite team to bolster the offensive line during this draft — only one offensive lineman — T Matt Kalil — was among the first 18 picks of the first round.

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Way to go, Dolphins

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 26, 2012 – 9:16 pm

It has been a subject of much speculation for weeks, that being whether the Miami Dolphins would pick QB Ryan Tannehill with their No. 1 pick, the 8th overall. For the Steelers, it’s a good thing the Dolphins picked Tannehill, for no other reason than the Steelers are happy every time a quarterback is selected ahead of their 24th pick in the first round. The reason for that is that it pushes all of the other players down another slot, because the Steelers won’t pick a quarterback on the first round.

Maybe the Steelers get really lucky and a team above them reaches for Stanford TE Coby Fleener. That would serve the same purpose — to push the other guys down another slot.

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On the radio from 8-9 p.m. EDT

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 26, 2012 – 7:55 pm

I’ll be doing an hour of radio with Steelers play-by-play man Bill Hillgrove and Mike Prisuta of the DVE Morning Show. You can listen via the following link:



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What the Browns gave up

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 26, 2012 – 7:29 pm

The Browns gave up their fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round picks (Nos. 118, 139, 211) this year to move up ONE SPOT to pick Trent Richardson. So the Browns go from having 13 picks to help fortify a team that was 4-12 last year to having 10.

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Leftwich is back in the fold

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 26, 2012 – 7:20 pm

The Steelers have agreed to terms with veteran QB Byron Leftwich on a one-year deal to be a backup to Ben Roethlisberger. Leftwich had been reportedly drawing some interest from the Indianapolis Colts to be a mentor for Andrew Luck, but he opted to return to a team for which he has played in two Super Bowls and won one.

Now, the depth chart behind Roethlisberger is Leftwich, Charlie Batch, Troy Smith and Jerrod Johnson. I would be surprised if the Steelers took more than four quarterbacks to training camp.

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The Browns bite

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 26, 2012 – 7:16 pm

ESPN just reported that the Browns have traded up from the No. 4 spot to the No. 3 spot. It’s assumed Cleveland will now select Alabama RB Trent Richardson. The Vikings get one of the two guys they wanted all along — CB Morris Claiborne or OT Matt Kalil — they get to pay the guy less because it’s one slot down in the round, and they get an extra pick somewhere along the way.

This is just like 2004 when the Browns traded up one spot to pick Miami TE Kellen Winslow Jr.

This move doesn’t really change the makeup of the players who are expected to be available when the Steelers pick No. 24, but it does cost the Browns a valuable pick. And it isn’t as though the Browns are one player away from being a contender.

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The first round of every draft has an uh-oh moment

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 26, 2012 – 6:29 pm

With the Steelers picking 24th in the first round, the number of possible variables that could shape the first 23 picks is incalcuable. But one thing that is sure to happen is there will be at least one uh-oh moment. An uh-oh moment is when a team does something unexpected, or more accurately, when a team makes a pick that elicits a chorus of “what were they thinking?”

Here are a couple of examples of what I consider to be two uh-oh moments that worked in the Steelers’ favor.

In the 1987 NFL Draft, the Steelers were picking 10th overall, and even though they desperately needed help at cornerback, Chuck Noll told defensive coordinator Tony Dungy not to even bother visiting with Purdue’s Rod Woodson because he was so certain Woodson wouldn’t be available. The first four picks of that 1987 draft went off as expected — Tampa Bay took QB Vinny Testaverde, Indianapolis took LB Cornelius Bennett, Houston took FB Alonzo Highsmith, and Green Bay took RB Brent Fullwood. Those teams had been associated with those names for weeks.

But then the Cleveland Browns got “creative.” The Browns traded Pro Bowl LB Chip Banks to the Chargers for the fifth overall pick, and then for whatever reason Coach Marty Schottenheimer believed a Duke linebacker named Mike Junkin was a worthy replacement, and they picked him fifth overall. Whoa. The St. Louis Cardinals were up next, sixth overall, and they followed the Browns with another uh-oh by picking Colorado State QB Kelly Stouffer. Suddenly, things were getting very interesting for Steelers fans hoping for Woodson. And at worst, the consolation prize at this point was looking like Penn State LB Shane Conlan, not a bad alternative to be sure.

That’s because the Detroit Lions had the seventh overall pick and had been linked all along to DE Reggie Rogers, and then everybody knew the Philadelphia Eagles were going to pick Miami DT Jerome Brown with the ninth overall pick. So it was all up to the Buffalo Bills, who were sitting at No. 8. If the Bills took Woodson, the Steelers were getting Conlan; if the Bills picked Conlan, the Steelers were going to get Woodson. Buffalo picked Conlan.

A Hall of Fame cornerback landed in the Steelers’ lap.

Fast Forward to the 2004 NFL Draft. The Steelers were sitting with the 11th overall pick going into a draft containing three top quarterback prospects and with a roster containing Tommy Maddox, Charlie Batch and Brian St. Pierre on the depth chart there. What everyone remembers about the top of the 2004 draft was the Chargers picking Eli Manning and the Giants picking Philip Rivers and then swapping them in a trade while the first round was still going on, but those guys getting picked that high was no surprise.

OT Robert Gallery to Oakland and WR Larry Fitzgerald to Arizona were expected, as were TE Kellen Winslow to Cleveland where Butch Davis was calling the shots, and WR Roy Williams to Detroit where Matt Millen was calling the shots. Where it got weird was at pick No. 9 when the Jacksonville Jaguars reached for WR Reggie Williams from Washington. The Buffalo Bills, picking 13th, reportedly were trying to trade up into the Jaguars’ spot to pick Ben Roethlisberger, but the Jaguars so coveted Reggie Williams that they turned down the offer to stay and pick a player they definitely could have gotten 13th overall.

So it went: Jacksonville picks Reggie Williams — what were they thinking — the Houston Texans did the expected with the 10th overall pick and took South Carolina CB Dunta Robinson.

Uh-oh, and the Steelers got Ben Roethlisberger.

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The day is underway

Posted by Bob Labriola on April 26, 2012 – 4:59 pm

It’s closing in on 5 p.m., still three hours away from Roger Goodell kicking off the 2012 NFL Draft — which is what the fancy logo calls it, but actually the official name of the event is the “77th Annual NFL Selection Meeting” — and the Steelers’ facility is already active. You can tell it’s the first day of the NFL Draft, because GM Kevin Colbert is wearing a shirt and tie. Both ESPN and NFL Network have been on the air already for hours, and I offer this one bit of advice as you settle down in front of the TV for a weekend of high-stakes schoolyard-pick-’em: the mute button on the remote is your friend.

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Who was the Steelers best first round draft pick from 2000-2009?

Posted by Teresa Varley on April 25, 2012 – 6:23 pm

Share your opinion on who you think the Steelers best first round draft pick was in the 2000s.

Also, be sure to vote on the polls below.

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