Round 1 Talking Points: Consolation Prize for Steelers?
Every year the NFL draft amazes. It’s way too long. Nothing much physically happens. Yet it generates a thousand talking points. Here are a few. Some of them Steelers specific. Some of them not. But all of them memorable from a night certain people would want to forget.
The streak is over: For the first time in 19 years the Steelers used a first round pick on a cornerback. It’s something Steeler fans and some media members have been demanding the Steelers do for years now. Yet the pick was met with muted enthusiasm in Steeler nation.
The main reason why is that the selection of Artie Burns out of Miami (Fla.) felt like a consolation prize.
Quite a few people in Pittsburgh (with yours truly leading the way) were pounding the drum for a different cornerback: William Jackson III out of Houston. Pittsburgh was believed to be in love with him. But as the draft neared his stock appeared to push him into the top 15.
Yet there he sat after 23 picks, still waiting to be nabbed. Until, you guessed it, the Bengals plucked him away from the Steelers one slot before Pittsburgh was about to get on the clock.
On Steelers Nation Radio after the selection, Kevin Colbert told me “I told the scouts yesterday Artie is going to be our guy.”
That may have been what Kevin said. But my bet is the thought bubble in his head while waiting at number 24 was. “Boy, I hope Cincy doesn’t take Jackson.”
Gotcha!: What do you think the Bengals enjoyed more? Picking William Jackson III all the way down at 24? Or preventing him from going to the rival Steelers at 25? They screwed Pittsburgh so badly, the only thing that would have made it worse is if Vontaze Burfict announced the pick on TV.
Artie “Bling” Burns: Much is being made about a TMZ report stating that Burns dropped $41K on a pre draft jewelry spending spree. But his agent, Melvin Bratton, is denying the price tag was close to that amount. And really, if you can’t trust a sports agent who used to be a Miami Hurricane during “THE U” glory days of the 80’s…who can you trust?!
Value on day two?: Many pundits (myself included) thought that the Steelers may take a defensive tackle instead of a corner in the first round if Jackson was off the board. A lot of the players at that position remain in play on Friday. Andrew Billings from Baylor, and Alabama’s two twin trees (A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed) could still be targets for the Black and Gold. And twitter informs me that quite a few Steeler fans would love to see the club roll the dice on Noah Spence of Eastern Kentucky if he is still around at 58.
Best value pick in the first round: That goes to San Francisco for nabbing Josh Garnett at 28. They traded up from #37 to make the selection. And he is worth it. He’s a smart, skilled, refined guard from Stanford who some called a David DeCastro clone. He’s mature beyond his years and ready to play now. I’m not alone in my opinion that if the Steelers had failed to retain Ramon Foster, this would have been their guy in the first round.
-Dallas picks Ezekiel Elliott at #4.: I loved this pick for Dallas. Some Cowboy fans were vocal on social media afterwards, claiming their team should have addressed a greater need than nabbing the Ohio State running back so high. But he’ll be a great running back. And did you get a glimpse of the crop top shirt & bow tie look? Personally, I think that’s too much soft pastel for a top five pick! But a man with fashion taste that bold has to have stones big enough to carry the ball in tough situations.
Laremy Tunsil’s gas mask: As bad of a look as Elliott’s outfit may have been, Laremy Tunsil’s gas mask bong was worse. Apparently his twitter account was hacked, and video of him taking a hit through a gas mask went online right before the draft. He fell from being no worse than likely the sixth worst pick in the draft to 13th.
Not sure what that gas mask cost him. But I know it made Ronnie Stanley, Jack Conklin a lot of money. Because they flew by him on the draft board to land with Baltimore and Tennessee respectively. That’s good news for other teams in the AFC North (like the Steelers) and the AFC South. Maybe those two teams just got spooked away from a better player over something that had nothing to do with football.
But, hey, at least Tunsil wound up in Miami though. After all, no way he could find trouble there… right?!
Eli in the Big “Apple”: Ohio State corner Eli Apple was considered by some to be a potential Pittsburgh pick at #25. But pro scout Matt Williamson said on my TribLive Radio show he would have been a horrible fit and that his ball skills were terrible.
That didn’t scare away the Giants from taking him at #10 though. Neither did those stories about Apple’s alleged poor cooking skills. But Apple was so surprised to be a top 10 pick he almost ignored the phone call from the Giants offices when he was about to be drafted. If apple was that stunned to be drafted so high, what should Giants fans be thinking?
Noticeable by their absence: The Patriots didn’t get a first round pick because of the Deflategate punishment. Think Roger Goodell was upset about not having to hold a New England jersey up to a Patriot draft pick? Yeah, me either.