February 17, 2009
By Donald Starver
I was talking to a friend about the Steelers’ awesome 2008 season, and suddenly he came to a shocking realization. It occurred to him that winning the Super Bowl means that the Steelers now get the honor and privilege of picking 32nd in the upcoming draft. That’s dead last. I could see the look of horror cover his face as comprehension set in.
Firstly, it amazed me that any true sports fan could be unaware of that particular ramification of winning the Super Bowl. It’s the booby prize that comes with the Lombardi Trophy. The two are intrinsically linked. It’s kind of like that pesky burning and itching feeling that you get after a night of sex with Paris Hilton; you can’t have one without the other.
But I digress.
So after he realized that every team in the NFL gets to select before the Steelers FINALLY get to pick, my friend proceeded to whine about how unfair that is, and how the Steelers are totally screwed. I was quick to remind him that it’s actually a pretty fair trade-off for trophy #6. Ask any team which they’d rather have, the #1 pick in the draft or a Super Bowl championship. I’m sure the answer will be unanimous.
But to further put him at ease, I reminded him that the Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals, and Oakland Raiders always seem to have top 5 draft positions. Yet despite getting their pick of the best young talent available, they continue to suck year after year. Meanwhile, teams like the Steelers, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, and Philadelphia Eagles seem to pick in the second half of the draft each year, and yet they remain perennial playoff teams. So there is more to winning than just having a top 10 draft position.
There will be plenty of good talent available at pick #32. In fact, the Steelers will probably have their pick from among some of the top interior offensive linemen available, should they choose to go that way.
Here are some recent 32nd picks, along with the team that made the pick. I’m also including in parentheses a few of the players that were drafted immediately after pick #32.
2008 – Patriots forfeited pick so Giants select Kenny Philips 31st (Philip Merling was selected next).
2007 – Colts select Anthony Gonzalez (Alan Branch, Paul Posluszny).
2006 – Giants chose Mathias Kiwanuka (DeMeco Ryans).
2005 – Patriots chose Logan Mankins (Brodney Poole, Lofa Tatupu).
2004 – Patriots chose Ben Watson (Karlos Dansby, Chris Snee).
2003 – Raiders select Tyler Brayton (Eric Steinbach, Boss Bailey).
2002 – Redskins picked Patrick Ramsey (Jabbar Gafney, DeShaun Foster).
2001 – Ravens select Todd Heap (Drew Brees, Alge Crumpler, Chad Johnson)
So as you can see, some very good players have been chosen at pick #32. Moreover, there is usually very good talent available even after the 32nd pick.
We all know that the Steelers had several starters on their Super Bowl championship team that weren’t even drafted. James Harrison, Willie Parker, and Darnell Stapleton were all undrafted free agents. That’s proof that good talent can be found, even after “Mr. Irrelevant” comes off the draft board.
So fret not, Steeler Nation. Picking last is a small price to pay for winning the Super Bowl. Kevin Colbert is very good at what he does. He’ll get the Steelers what they need, even if he has to trade down to get it (remember the trades he made to get Troy Polamalu and Santonio Holmes?).
So if you find yourself feeling down because of the Steelers’ draft position, just remember that we could be picking first, like the Detroit Lions. That would REALLY suck.
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