Evaluating the Steelers 2001 draft
Trading pick #16 for Picks 19, 111, & 181 isn�t the dream trade, nor did it get us the 3rd round pick we really needed, but assuming it was the best offer, I would have pulled the trigger on this trade also.
Pick #19 Casey Hampton DT Texas. A reach, but a needed one. There was a major run on DT�s and the Steelers really needed a player who could start on the D-line from day one. Hampton is a stud, and probably the best pure NT in the draft and thus a perfect fit for the Steelers. So why is he a reach? Because the next DT wasn�t taken until 10 picks later when the Rams took Ryan Pickett. (And that was a huge reach.) Hampton probably would have been available any time before the Rams picked. Still, he was what we needed and should start right away thereby upgrading our run D and returning Kimo to the DE spot.
Trading pick #50 and 112 for pick#39 may not have been necessary. Rumor was that Jacksonville wanted Kendrell Bell, but given their desperate need for O-line help who could play soon, I find it hard to believe they would have spend their 2nd pick on a ILB. But then again, they did spend their 3rd pick on an OLB, so maybe it was necessary.
Pick #39 Kendrell Bell ILB Georgia. My favorite LB in the draft even though he�s pretty raw and may not be ready to beat Mike Jones out for the available starting job. He fills a big hole on Steelers roster and has Steeler written all over him � and that isn�t an easy thing to say about a LB.
Day One nabbed us two excellent players. They are even the players I would have taken if forced to pick where the Steelers made the selections, but day one did have it�s disappointments.� I would have liked to have seen a move up to the end of round one in order to grab Drew Brees. (I recognize that not everyone agrees, but QB is our biggest problem.) It was also disappointing that there wasn�t a trade to get us a third round pick, or that Huntley or Amos wasn�t traded for a day one pick. Overall I give Day One an A-.
Pick #111 Mathias Nkwenti OT Temple. At 6�3� he reminds me of Paul Wiggins. Although he�s up to 300 pounds now, Nkwenti�s playing weight was 279 and that reminds me of Chris Conrad. Nkwenti is a converted D-linemen, who has spent just one year on the O-line, and that reminds me of Stephens. With all these reminders of guys who we were told on draft day were promising prospects, but who either the coaching staff couldn�t develop or who were just stiffs; I�m hesitant to feel good about Nkwenti. Frankly, I don�t like the pick given who else was available. Maybe Coach Grimm, the new O-line coach, can reverse the trend of busting with this type of guys. Grimm did say he had the best feet of any OT in the draft, but it seems to me that I heard that about some of the guys above as well. Since we have three guys with starting experience and didn�t feel the need to re-sign Shar, I don�t see our need at OT as warranting this pick either.
Pick #146 Chukky Okobi G/C Purdue. I�ve seen a lot of Okobi and like him as a player. Although he�s only about 6�1� it doesn�t bother me as much as Nkwenti�s lack of height because lateral movement and arm length isn�t as critical in interior linemen. Okobi has starting experience at Guard and Center, but he isn�t in the same ballpark as the H.O.F. Centers Steelers fans are use to watching. Okobi probably isn�t any better than Duffy, just younger and cheaper. Not a bad pick, just not the one I would have made.
Pick #181 Rodney Bailey DE Ohio State. I�ve seen just about every game this Ohio State DE has played. He played at 6�3� 270, but says he�s up to 280. He�s got some potential, but not enough to make him, at best, any better than Kevin Henry ever was. Decent pass rusher and against the run, but would be better in a 4-3. He�ll either be a UFA or cut by the time he either develops enough to really contribute or learns the system.
Pick #182 Roger Knight LB Wisconsin. Unlike Bell, this smallish OLB doesn�t have Steeler written all over him. When I�ve seen him, he hasn�t impressed. Reports place his measurables from 6�0� to 6�2� and from 224 to 237 pounds. He�s hardly the eventual replacement for Gildon some had hoped for.
Pick #218 Chris Taylor WR Texas A&M. He�s got 4.4 speed but little else. Some say he doesn�t play up to his 40 time, and at 5�10� 184, durability has got to be a concern.� Returns kicks, but has questionable hands. Not bad value for a 7th rounder, but better skill was available, if you were willing to take the baggage. Didn�t we have a bunch of guys like this on the roster a few years back that never panned out? Mike Adams, Jahine Arnold, Henry Bailey, Will Blackwell, etc. XFL here he comes.
Day Two was a huge disappointment as Colbert drafted project after project. I wonder if Cowher will have the patience or skill to develop any of them. The failure to get at CB puts us in a bad position next year since both our starters are UFA�s. These late rounds are where Tom Donahoe use to find many a gem: Aaron Smith, Orpheus Roye, Earl Holmes, Fu, Emmons, Perry, Flowers, etc. I�m not sure Colbert got any this year. I�ll be surprised if 3 of the last 5 picks are on the Steelers opening day roster in 2002. Overall I give Day Two a C-
My 2001 Steelers draft grade: B-