Â Finishing off the final rounds today of the NFL draft, the Steelers picked up a few more good depth players including Joe Burnett, CB out of Central Florida. Â The 5’9″ 192 First Team All-American in 2008 brings above average strength to the Steelers secondary along with versatility. Â He earned a total of eight All-Conference USA Honors, including a four-year sweep of First-Team Punt Returner. Â He was also named the Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Year in 2008.
He had 16 career interceptions with Central Florida where he also returned kickoffs. Â He’ll be a welcome addition to Dick LeBeau’s secondar as well as special teams. Â Can’t have too many good kick returners.
The draft today actually got me really excited at the prospects of what the team will have built for the future. It’s the same thing big corporations do from a human resources perspective, where is the company going, what kind of skills will we need for the future, do we have those skills now and if not, where do we get them and how do we keep them. Â I see the same thing being built around the “business” of the Steelers. Â I haven’t paid as much attention to the draft in past years. Â This year has me excited for what’s to come.
Also, in the fifth round, the Steelers selected Frank “the tank” Summers, a 5’9″ 241 running back from UNLV. Summers has a bruising running game – he rushed for 1,688 yards over the last two seasons and had 14 TD’s. According to scouting reports, Steelers insiders made reference to him as the “junior Bus” – referring to Jerome Bettis who helped the Steelers get to and win Super Bowl XL before he retired.
The Steelers will likely play him in a fullback position, though he was also a special teams contributor at UNLV.
This was another good pick for the Steelers, shoring up depth in the running game, the staple of the Steelers offense.
Another addition to the defense came in the sixth round when the Steelers selected DT Ra’Shon Harris, 6’4″ and 298lbs out of Oregon. Â While he struggled until later in his college career, he’s still a well-built tackle witha great interior presence according to scouting reports. Â He accounted for 47 tackles, 9 of them for a loss and had 3 sacks. Â Â
He will have the opportunity to learn from the best defensive coach in the league and be mentored by the defensive player of the year – not a bad spot for a kid picked up in the 6th round. Â I’m sure being part of the Steel Curtain and learning from some of the best defensive players in the league is priceless for the folks we selected on defense.
In another addition to the offensive line, the Steelers selected A.Q. Shipley, a 6’1″ 304 Center from my alma mater, Penn State. Â If there’s one thing they do right in Happy Valley, it’s groom football players. Â Big, tough football players. Â Shipley not only anchored the offensive line while he played there, he was an offensive co-captain. Â He also was the 2008 Dave Remington Trophy winner as the nation’s best center. Â He’s intense andphysical on the line. Â Exactly what we need to keep Ben upright. Â On top of it, he’s a Pittsburgh hometown boy. Â I’m sure he’s thrilled to go home and play for the team he grew up with.
The last and final pick in round 7 went to an offensive player, David Johnson, a TE out of Arkansas State. Â In 2008, he had 22 receptions for 356 yards and 5 TD’s. Â He is a good combo blocker and receiver at 6’2″ and 260 yards. Â
Overall, Â the Steelers did a great job filling the gaps for the upcoming season. Â Though many of these guys won’t start, they are depth player who will have the opportunity to learn from some of the best. Â We filled gaps on the O-line, we added a wide receiver to replace losing Nate Washington as well as finding CB’s to cover the loss of Bryant McFadden. Â This weekend’s draft was successful in getting what we needed, including the Hines Ward extension and the Ike Taylor renegotiation.Â
Looks like an exciting football season. Now, on to camp. Â Let’s get it.