Past Drafts Show Tomlins Tendencies


January 17, 2012

Draftniks everywhere know that predicting any team's draft picks is an inexact science. In 32 different boardrooms across the country, there are 32 teams of scouts, coaches, and front office personnel who are setting up their individual draft boards. Each of those boards are set up to look at all the variables involved in regards to their own team needs, the possible needs of other teams, and the depth of talent at each position.

Those who follow the Steelers know that they usually seem to follow a few basic rules: 1) Draft the best player available (BPA). 2) Rarely trade. 3) Stay away from players with character issues. 4) Look towards the future.

But there is also a trend that one can trace back to the beginning of the Tomlin era that might not be as obvious. The first two draft picks that Coach Tomlin ever made were a set of linebackers. Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons was drafted in the first round of 2007 and outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley was Tomlinís second overall pick. Although this keeps to the theme of drafting for the future it seems that Tomlin and the Steelers' front office have developed a method of first recognizing an obvious need and then filling it with several bodies in the same draft.

The trend of tandem position draft picking can be seen throughout Tomlinís tenure and the results have, overall, been pretty successful.

Perhaps the best example of this, outside of Tomlin's first draft class, was the 2010 draft in which Tomlin landed 4 potential future starters. In that draft we saw linebacker Jason Worilds drafted in the 2nd round and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester drafted in the 5th round. This is also the draft in which Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown was brought in as a 6th round pick and talented wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was drafted in the 3rd round.

We have seen this same trend as recently as last year, in which it was obvious that the coaching staff saw a lack of athleticism in our defensive backfield and drafted Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen back to back in the 3rd and 4th rounds. Both of these players have already contributed on special teams and seem destined for bigger roles as cornerbacks as they learn the system.

Thatís not to say that the formula works every year. The abysmal 2008 draft showed the coaching staff straying from the formula altogether, and the 2009 class had mixed results with 3rd round cornerback Keenan Lewis showing flashes of promise but 5th round cornerback Joe Burnett no longer on the team.

So what does that mean for the 2012 draft class?

Well, by looking at team needs, it seems obvious that we have little depth and little talent on our offensive line. This could be the year in which we see two offensive linemen drafted early in the draft. I think we could see an offensive tackle and a guard both drafted within the first three picks and perhaps as many as three offensive linemen drafted altogether.

The 2012 draft is top heavy with offensive guards, but the talent available at tackle is pretty slim. This fact alone might make the Steelers reach, if only slightly, for a tackle on the first day. This is a very real possibility if there is a prospect left on the board at the end of the first round, which might, in time, play on the left side. We wonít reach far, but like Marcus Gilbert in last yearís draft, I donít think we will hesitate on pulling the trigger on a player that we think has starting ability, even if most draft boards show him ranked lower than our projected pick.

We do have other needs, and I donít think we will pass on a blue chip prospect at those need positions if they should fall into our lap, but if the past is an accurate indicator of what we might expect, start scanning the prospect listings for players to protect our QB.

© 2012 Steelers Universe
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