Friday, April 29, 2011

Cameron Heyward It Is. Is This Really Surprising?

With the 31st pick in the 2011 NFL Entry Draft the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Cameron Heyward Defensive End, Ohio State.

Now I'm not the biggest Ohio State fan (aka I hate Ohio State), but it's impossible to fault this pick. In the end they took the best player available who just happened to fill, what I and any others consider, a need.

The defensive line is getting old. Ziggy Hood showed great promise, especially towards the end of last season and Keisel was downright filthy, but Aaron Smith is getting old and is injured quite a bit. Even Keisel missed some time last year. Hampton is 33, Smith is 35, Hoke is 35, Keisel is 32, and Eason is 30. This is a pick that good teams make, it may not give us a full time starter right off the bat (although don't count Heyward out), but it gives us a probable stud for the next ten years.

The Steelers are clearly refreshing their front seven. Your core front seven now includes Heyward, Hood, Timmons, and Woodley. The Steelers defense is predicated on a strong front seven getting pressure on and/0r confusing the Quarterback.

Heyward is the typical solid, but not sexy Steelers draft pick. Penn State fans have seen what Heyward can do, and I can't imagine they aren't glad he is on the Steelers side, rather than having to play against him.

Heyward is the Pittsburgh kid, that does mean something in Pittsburgh. He is also by all accounts an outstanding teammate and a great presence in the locker room. Is work ethic is said to be unrivaled.

There wasn't a corner in the first round that the Steelers had a chance to get at 31 who would come in and replace a departed Ike Taylor. I would argue there probably wasn't one that would even unseat Gay or McFadden as the number two. Heyward won't be asked to start but if there is an injury, which isn't at all unlikely, Heyward will represent little drop-off in my opinion as opposed to any of the other positions we could have went with based solely on need.

If Starks is healthy he doesn't need replaced on the O-line. Besides the draft is more than one round. And another point Sean Kugler proved last year to really be able to coach some of these guys up. The Offensive Line is clearly still a weakness, but I think it moved forward last year. I wouldn't count out Kugler's ability to coach up a mid-round pick. Give Kugler a project and don't be surprised when he completes it.

So in closing the Steelers did what they usually do. Took a solid pick, that looks pretty unlikely to bust, and filled a non-glaring need for now and the future. Heyward will do exactly what he is told, will be a leader in the locker room, all while bringing a great bloodline and amazing talent (two things that can't be taught).

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