Friday, April 24, 2009

OL prospects that are wrong for the Steelers

Guest post by Nick Beckwith ...

There are a number of offensive line prospects that have generated considerable national press that would seem to be a poor fit for the Steelers’ scheme, flawed in some crucial way, or just plain overrated. Here are a few:

Center Max Unger (6-5, 309, 5.29) of the University of Oregon. Unger is tabbed as Pittsburgh’s first pick in many mock drafts, but I don’t see it. I watched him closely in the Senior Bowl, where he played alongside Alex Mack. Unger had a horrible game and could not deal with the kind of bull rush he would see on a regular basis in the AFC North. A smart, hardworking player, but he belongs in a zone blocking scheme.

Center-guard prospect Antoine Caldwell (6-3, 309, 5.19) out of Alabama, is well liked by some scouts but not by me. Good technique but a “slow-twitch” athlete, his good 40 yard dash time notwithstanding. In the NFL, I fear speed rushers would simply shoot the gaps on him.

Guard Duke Robinson (6-5, 329, 5.29) and tackle Phil Loadholt (6-8, 332, 5.54), both of Oklahoma, can be considered together. There is no nice way to say this but both these guys are lazy. They do not train to capitalize on their considerable natural gifts, and they tend to tail off and give up big plays in the fourth quarter. Maybe a good coach could motivate these two but I, like the Emperor Chaz, prefer guys who motivate themselves. The success of the Patriots and the Steelers and the failure of the Cowboys in the last decade show that character, commitment, intensity and teamwork trump talent.

Meanwhile, guard-tackle Andre Smith (6-4, 332, 5.4e) from the University of Alabama is a great inline blocker with extraordinary power, but has done little to build on his inherent abilities.

Finally, Herman Johnson (6-7, 370, 5.56) is a king-size guard prospect out of LSU, the same school that produced Alan Faneca. If there’s one thing Johnson has it’s size. In fact, he is thought to be one of the largest babies ever born in Louisiana (15 lbs, 14 ounces). I admit I kinda like Herman; he seems like sort of an entertaining, goofy dude. But he has no stamina, no speed and his weight has been known to balloon over 400 pounds. Football is a big man’s game but also a game of movement.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I remember, the only two touchdowns the North team scored in the Senior Bowl, had Unger at center. That says something about leadership and talent.

9:20 AM  

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