Is it a bad thing the world knows that the Steelers are drafting a QB?
In the Steelers press conference the other day with Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert, they may have let their intentions of drafting a quarterback slip.
So is that the worst thing in the world? Look at the 2021 draft; although they needed offensive line help, solid offensive linemen options were available at their 25th selection. They passed and took Najee Harris. Everyone knew it was going to happen.
The Steelers were too far back to pursue a quarterback unless they had made a play for Mac Jones or Justin Fields. Keeping that in mind, they would have had to give something up to move that far up, and the Steelers already had lost many drafts picks in several trades, including the one to get Minkah Fitzpatrick.
When the Steelers wide receivers were posting more yardage than the running backs, you heard that saying run through your mind, “Houston, we have a problem.” So we drafted a running back, and everyone knew. Heck, someone could have found a chimpanzee that could have figured that out. Yes, everyone knew; they did not have to trade and got whom they wanted. Still, everyone knew and what was affected by it? Nothing, absolutely nothing.
Moreover, everyone knew Jacksonville was taking Trevor Lawrence, did that change anything? Again the answer is no. So looking back, We drafted Harris, and he had 1200 rushing yards and 467 receiving yards with seven touchdowns and was the most productive running back in several seasons.
On top of that, Jacksonville drafted Travis Etienne after Najee Harris and he missed the entire 2021 season to an injury. Had they drafted Etienne instead and he still got injured or not drafted one at all, who knows how pathetic the Steelers running game could have been in 2021? Plus, they would have missed the playoffs.
Looking at the alternative, they could have waited until this year and drafted, which means then the Steelers solution would be to take Kenneth Walker or Breece Hall. That’s some truly awesome alternative for you. Had they not drafted Najee, it would be 2023 until the Steelers found a credible running back.
Looking ahead to the Steelers 2022 draft
Looking to Thursday, yes, we know many of you hate this year’s quarterback draft class. Does that mean they will all stink and be a bust? For all we know, in 20 years, we could be comparing 2022 to the 1983 quarterback class and comparing 2021’s to 1997.
Ok, probably not, but the point is sure right now, you can say neither should go in round one or even before round three. However, that’s a fair point, but let’s look at the 1983 quarterback draft class. Denver, via Baltimore, got John Elway because Elway refused to play for the Colts, and the Chiefs got Todd Blackledge. Buffalo landed Jim Kelly, and the Patriots got Tony Eason. Miami drafted Dan Marino, and the Jets took Ken O’Brien in a truly New York Jets fashion.
How would history have changed if the Steelers took Marino, the Chiefs got Jim Kelly, and the Dolphins forcibly took a quarterback in the 2nd round? Quite a bit. See, the NFL draft is similar to running a trick play, say a fake punt, a flea-flicker, the old statue of liberty play.
When the play works, fans are ecstatic; no one believes how well the play worked; people watch clips of it on Youtube for decades to come. When it fails, it generally fails miserably. The coach gets grilled in the post-game conference. The newspaper criticizes the decision the next day, and you have a million tweets all calling to fire the coach.
In the draft, it works in reverse. Ahead of the draft, every analyst says the same basic things you need to draft this guy or that guy; the guy over there blew out his knee; he sucks; avoid him. Drafting a quarterback this year is bad value, don’t do it; never draft a running back in the first round; they are never around too long. Don’t telegraph your draft intentions; everyone knows what you’re doing. At the end of the day, there is always one team that will draft the guy who blew out his knee, take the bad value pick, or draft from the position that lacks talent.
The Steelers took Joe Greene in 1969, and the headlines read the next day, “Joe Who?” We all know who Joe is now. The Steelers took Huey Richardson with the 15th selection in 1991. He ended up playing for three teams in a career that lasted two seasons.
On paper, sure, you can say this decision or that decision will be a bad one. Eventually, the players have to take the field. Then a year later, we look back at certain selections and muse that the Steelers selection was pure genius and what the Panthers were thinking.
Perhaps Matt Corral finds a home with the Falcons and leads them to a Superbowl title in his first season, and the Panthers take Pickett, and he’s a complete disaster. Then you will say what were the Pathers thinking by drafting Pickett at six when Corral was available.
You can criticize all you want right now; it’s a different matter when they step on the field. If the Steelers select a player that takes them to the Superbowl, you will forget where they drafted him. On the other hand, if Trubisky gets hurt and the draft pick turns out to be an over-hyped version of Mason Rudolph, and Tomlin has a losing season, then we will talk about that misfire for decades.
There is no other valid way to judge any draft class until the players actually play. Thus the results can be much different than anyone anticipated.