Draft Picks:
1) TE Health Miller
2) CB Bryant McFadden
3) OT Trai Essex
4) WR Fred Gibson
5) LB Rian Wallace
6) OG Chris Kemoeautu
7a) Shaun Nua
7b) Noah Herron

Depth Chart

Pittsburgh Steelers 2005 Draft Choices

3 year Draft Evaluation: Heath Miller is an excellent Tight End blocking and receiving. I'm not sure if McFadden is a starting corner, but he is a Pro. Essex could be a good Tackle. Overall, a good draft at the top, but only Kemoeatu from Day 2.

2 year Draft Evaluation: Heath Miller looks very solid, B-Mac needs to get better and Trai Essex has to keep his weight down if he wants to eventually play Left Tackle. Rian Wallace and Chris Kemoeautu stil could develop into starters.

1 year Draft Evaluation: When a team wins the Super Bowl, they always have large contributions from their Rookie class. This year's rookies played a big part in the team's success on both sides of the ball.

On offense, first rounder TE Heath Miller provided excellent run blocking and was a receiving threat in the Red Zone and down the middle of the field. He opened up space for the WR's by making opposing safeties play the middle of the field. Third rounder OT Trai Essex, some might say, saved the Steelers season by filling in for OT Marvel Smith. While the Steelers did lose two games he started, Essex managed to hold the line together and prevent a collapse like in 2003 when Alan Faneca had to play Left Tackle.

On defense, second round CB Bryant McFadden proved to be a very worthy pick, surpassing the team's 2004's second round CB selection. He played the outside receiver in passing downs and made several big plays in the Playoffs and Super Bowl.

1st Round - TE Health Miller Tight End , Virginia, 6'5", 255#
2006 Evaluation: Heath continues to get better in all phases of his game. A reliable and dynamic player who is also durable. Final Draft Grade: A-

2006 Evaluation: A bit of a let down season. Heath dropped a few balls and made some pre-snap penalties. He should continue to get better. The Steelers will experiement using him more as a slot receiver in 2007. trend: steady

2005 Evaluation: A big part of the Steeler offensive success in both running and passing. Became the starter by mid-season. Set the edge for running plays with excellent blocking at the point of attack and showed an ability to run smart routes, often finding soft spots in zone coverages. Great hands - will catch almost anything. Big Ben loves to throw to him in the Red zone (had 6 TD receptions). His receiving threat opened up space for WR's (Hines Ward usually) taking teams out of Cover 2 coverages. Thanks to Heath and the WR Cedric Wilson, the Steelers never missed Plaxico Burress. Only negative was that he showed Rookie nerves in the Super Bowl - 2 penalties. trend: up

2005 Mid-season Update: He is leading the team in touchdown receptions and has displaced Jerame Tuman as the starter when they open games in 1 TE formations. He looks like an excellent pick who should be a cornerstone of the team. He continues to block well, run sweet routes and snag the ball with his hands. In the locker room, the word is that he's very quiet but a great teammate. Way to go Steelers! trend: up

2005 Preseason Update: The Big Surprise about "Big Money" is that he can block. He will not be any liability to the Steelers in their 2 TE formations which look to be an ever increasing part of the offense. His outstanding receiving skills are, of course, plainly evident. trend: up

Draft Day Impressions: The Steelers were fortunate that several teams ahead of them like Indianapolis and San Diego already had talented Tight Ends or Miller would have never lasted this long. It's just another reason why some people whisper about destiny this year for the Steelers. Miller is a great combination of blue-collar and pizzazz. He's a humble hard-working kid from a small town who consistently smoked college defenses with his catching ability. He will instantly upgrade both the running and passing game for the Steeler offense, not to mention provide for an easy 2-4 completions a game for Big Ben. No longer can safeties crowd the line in 2 TE formations, expecting a run. In the passing game, Miller gives Big Ben a big target and an easy check down if the heat gets too high.

Draft Grade: A, predicted grade after 3 years: A-

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead in round #1: DT Mike Patterson (Phi 1st Round), DT Shaun Cody (Det 2nd Round), WR Vincent Jackson (SD 2nd Round)
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2nd Round - Bryant McFadden Cornerback, Florida St, 6'0", 190#
2007 Evaluation: B-Mac continues to step in when Deshea Townsend gets hurt, but can't win the starting job for himself. He has nice ball skills, but lacks deep speed and gives up too big of a cushion to receivers. May finally prosper in a Cover 2 defensive system. Final Draft Grade: B-

2006 Evaluation: Played a lot due to poor play from Ike Taylor. Oppsoing teams found his weakness: the deep in routes. Plays the ball well and tackles well, but isn't terribly quick. Will compete for starting job in 2007. trend: steady

2005 Evaluation: Another great contribution from a Rookie. McFadden displaced Colclough by mid-season as the Nickle back and played very well on the outside in passing defenses. Is more physical than fast and likes to hit. Can play the ball very well for a Rookie as evidenced by a great play against Indy WR Reggie Wayne in the end zone in the 4th quarter of the divisional playoffs to secure a Steeler win. In the Super Bowl, he made another good play in the end zone and made some big hits. Veteran CB Deshea Townshend was re-signed, fortunately, but he doesn't necessarily own the starting role. Townsend will compete with McFadden for the starting spot opposite Ike Taylor in 2006. The loser of this battle will be the Nickle back. trend: up

2005 Mid-season Update: McFadden didn't dress for the first 4-5 games but then got his chance against Jacksonville, due to injuries, to play in the Dime. He played very well and made a key, key interception late in the 4th quarter to force overtime. The ball was under thrown, probably due to the wind - still it was a huge play. In Green Bay, he smashed Brett Favre and forced a fumble which was returned for a TD by Troy Polamalu. Bryant's rapid development forced the Steelers to cut veteran Willie Williams. trend: up

2005 Preseason Update: This guy likes to hit and play physically. He reminds me of Delton Hall (1987 #2 and team ROY) with speed. He often looks like the best pure corner on the team, but his limited experience in the Steelers Blitz schemes makes him less comfortable in coverages compared to Ike Taylor and Ricardo Colclough. He should be a valuable asset on Special teams this season while he learns the Defense. trend: steady

Draft Day Impressions: I guess Ike Taylor and Ricardo Colclough are not ready to be starting CB's in the NFL. Maybe they are and the Steelers just believe it never hurts to have enough cover corners. It's hard to argue against drafting promising CB's when borderline Corners like Gary Baxter get $8 million signing bonuses. Anyway, McFadden is a polished corner who has played a lot of big games against top-notch competition. In 4 games his senior season he did not allow his opponent to catch a ball. That's called shutting down one half of the field. Taylor and Colclough have had to learn for the last 1-2 years how to play corner at the NFL. McFadden also is a very physical corner who is an excellent tackler - something Taylor is not (remember that nasty stiff arm he got in the playoff game against the Jets?). It will be interesting to see how the competition in Training camp between the 3 young corners and veteran Willie Williams plays out. Playing with former college teammate FS Chris Hope should help McFadden transition into the life of an NFL player.

Draft Grade: B+, predicted grade after 3 years: B

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead in round #2: OT Adam Terry (BAL 2nd Round), LB Channing Crowder, (MIA 3rd Round), DE/OLB Justin Tuck, (NYG, 3rd round), CB Eric Green, (ARI, 3rd Round)
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3rd Round - Trai Essex Offensive Tackle, Northwestern 6'4", 342#
2007 Evaluation: After playing very little in 2007 and none in 2006, Essex started the Steelers Playoff game in January 2008 against Jacksonville. Surprisingly, he held up quite well showing excellent pass protection and decent run blocking. That one performance may allow the Steelers to let Max Starks go via Free Agency. Final Draft Grade: Not Enough Information!

2006 Evaluation: Didn't play at all in 2006. trend: steady

2005 Evaluation: Had the chance to start 3 games when Marvel Smith got injured. Essex gained valuable experience for the future and he looks like he could develop into a fine NFL player. His first 3 starts were against some of the best pass rushers in the league: Dwight Freeney, Alex Brown and Terrell Suggs. While he didn't beat these players, he wasn't bad. Essex is actually a good run blocker who can latch on and keep his feet moving. He still needs to get better in pass protection in terms of technique, but I'm sure under O-line coach Russ Grimm, that will improve. trend: up

2005 Mid-season Update: Has yet to dress for a game although that will change against Baltimore (11/20/05). trend: steady

2005 Preseason Update: He is not a bust in the mold of other 3rd round OT's like Kris Farris (2000) and Chris Conrad (1999). As advertised, he has excellent feet and agility for a big man. Unlike, RT Max Starks, he can mirror and adjusts well to defenders in space. His run blocking looks much better than what you'd expect from a Left Tackle, too. He seems to already have moved up the depth chart ahead of veteran backup OT Barret Brooks. trend: up

Draft Day Impressions: Certainly the biggest disappointment in this year's draft. No one had him rated higher than a 5th round pick. O-line coach Russ Grimm must have seen something that he loved because all the reports indicated that he was fat and and on the lazy side of a work ethic, although athletically very gifted. He started out at Northwestern as a 260# tight end and ended up a 340# Tackle. If the trend continues, he will be a 400# former NFL player. Hopefully Grimm can work the same magic with Essex as he did with last year's 3rd round pick OT Max Starks.

Draft Grade: C-, predicted grade after 3 years: B-

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead in round #3: OLB Darryl Blackstock (3rd Round, ARI) , G Nick Kaczur (3rd Round, NE) , OT Elton Brown (3rd Round, ARI)
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4th Round - Fred Gibson, Wide Receiver, Georgia. 6'4", 200#
2005 Mid-season Update:
After spending half the season on Miami's practice squad, they cut him. I suppose they didn't like his attitude either. trend: down and out again

2005 Preseason Update: Unfortunately, Freddy Gibson replaced Plexico Burress in the wrong ways. He ran sloppy routes, he had mental errors and he refused to take responsibility for himself and his short-comings. He probably has the talent to be a successful NFL player, but his attitude is not All-Pro and therefore, he will never be very good. Fortunately, the Steelers found another talented receiver in this year's Rookie class: the very coachable Nate Washington. This guy from Division II Tiffen has excellent route running skills and hands. To boot, he comes from an unheard of football program meaning that he knows he has a lot to learn. The Steelers are happy to teach him this season. In addition, veteran Quincy Morgan (#33 overall in 2002) was signed after he was waived by Dallas and should be the #3 or #4 receiver this year. As for Freddy Gibson, the Steelers wanted to sign him to the Practice Squad, but he preferred to sign with Miami. As usual, this was the Steeler's problem and not Freddy's. trend: down and out

Draft Day Impressions: Great value in the fourth round. He has top notch physical ability and put up very good numbers in the SEC (800 yds & 8 tds) his Senior season. There are several good reasons why he fell to the end of the 4th round: a) he may be more interested in playing basketball than football; b) he sold his SEC championship ring which was in violation of NCAA rules; c) he's very thin and not tough going over the middle; d) he was seen as a player with character problems. The Steelers used to have a tall wideout that had similar baggage coming out of college: Plaxico Burress, and the Steelers coaching staff kept him in line pretty well. Fred Gibson may replace Burress on the field, too. With his height, deceptive deep speed from a long gait and the ability to stretch the field, he could start by the middle of this year. Words has it that he is a very good route runner and has excellent hands, skills which Burress still doesn't possess today. The Steelers needed a new WR to play on the outside and who could stretch the field. They got excellent value and considerable surprise potential in Gibson.
Draft Grade: A, Predicted Grade after 3 years: A-

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead in round #4: DE Chris Canty (4th Round, DAL), WR Airese Currie (5th Round CHI) , OLB Trent Cole (5th Round, PHI)
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5th Round - Rian Wallace, Inside Linebacker, Temple 6'3", 243#
2007 Evaluation: cut in pre-season. Final Draft Grade: C-

2006 Evaluation: Had a nice interception at the end of the season. Decent special teams player. A good backup who is improving nicely. trend: up

2005 Evaluation: Wallace dressed for some games and played on special teams when there were injuries to LB's James Harrison and Andre Frazier. Didn't show much that I could see. trend: steady

2005 Mid-season Update: Has played some on special teams due to James Farrior's injury. Hasn't shown much, yet. trend: steady

2005 Preseason Update: Wallace looks like an impact player. He plays hard and he hits hard. He seems to have made the transition to the NFL well. He will play special teams and learn for at least this year. trend: up

Draft Day Impressions: Good value in the 5th round. Was very productive and disruptive for Temple. Definitely a project, but he can sit and learn how to play ILB while backing up James Farrior and Larry Foote. Has good size and very good speed. The big knock on him was that he only benched 225# ten times. Luckily, the Steelers' 3-4 scheme does not require ILB's to take on linemen very often.

Grade: B+, predicted grade after 3 years: B

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead in round #5: LB Lance Mitchell (5th Round, ARI) , LB Ryan Claridge (5th Round, NE), OLB Nick Speegle (6th Round, CLE)
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6th Round - Chris Kemoeautu, Offensive Guard, Utah, 6'3", 340#
2007 Evaluation: Didn't play much and seems to big to fit into the new O-line philosophy of pulling, agile guard. Final Draft Grade: B-

2006 Evaluation: Clearly the better guard than Kendall Simmons, but lacks expereince and makes mental errors. His feet don't move very well, but when he locks on, he overpowers defenders. Started against Kansas City because Simmons wasn't getting the job done and the Steelers erupted for 40+ points. A coincidence? trend: steady

2005 Evaluation: Kemoeautu never played a down and was often inactive on gameday. When the Steelers were losing, especially after the Monday night loss to Indy, there was some speculation that Chris would get a chance to start at RG instead of Kendall Simmons. That never came to be, but in the 2006 training camp, I think he will be given every opportunity to win the job. trend: steady

2005 Mid-season Update: In the beginning of the season when Kendall Simmons was clearly the worst starter on the offensive line, there were whispers that the Steelers may try to get him into the lineup. Simmons has since played better. Kemoeautu hasn't dressed yet this season, but he'll be a starter by the 2007 season. trend: steady

2005 Preseason Update: This guy has to be the steal of the Draft! He is so much fun to watch. He is huge, wide and quick on his feet. When he pulls from his LG position, he puts linebackers on their butts! After the whistle is over, he's still blocking! He clearly has a way to frustrate opponents because he is so good AND aggressive. He is currently the 3rd Guard on the team and will step in and play if anything happens to starting OG's Faneca or Simmons. trend: way up

Draft Day Impressions: This guy should have gone in the 3rd round if it weren't for some rumors about his anger (he supposedly stepped on the heads of several opponents). But this guy is huge and strong. A classic mauler who can physically dominate opponents and often did at Utah. #1 overall pick QB Alex Smith believed he should have gone in the first round. This is also a great pick because the Steelers needed depth at Guard. If someone gets hurt, he may play this year. I never hope to see anyone hurt, but it would be exciting to see him play Steelers football.

Grade: A+, predicted grade after 3 years: A-

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7th Round - Shaun Nua, Defensive End , BYU, 6'5", 270#
2007 Evaluation: cut in pre-season. Final Draft Grade: C-

2006 Evaluation: Never dressed and was always inactive. trend: down

2005 Evaluation: Never dressed and was always inactive. The Steelers took him off the Practice Squad in mid-season becasue the 49'ers wanted to add him to their roster. trend: steady

2005 Preseason Update: Didn't show much and will spend a year on the practice squad. trend: steady

Draft Day Impressions: Another Samoan on the team (in addition to Troy Polamulu and Kimo Von Olehoffen) is a good thing. Another BYU grad on the team (in addition to Chris Hoke and Brett Kiesel) is a good thing. He will probably red shirt for a year, learn the system and add weight until 2006.

Grade: B-, predicted grade after 3 years: B-

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7th Round - Noah Herron, Running Back , Northwestern, 5'11" 225#
2006 Evaluation: played for Packers in 2006

2005 Evaluation: Was picked up by the Packers and actually had a few carries for them. trend: up (for the Packers)

2005 Mid-season Update: He'll spend the year on the practice squad unless there are season ending injuries for any running back. trend: steady

2005 Preseason Update: Looks like a serviceableback, but nothing flashy or exciting. As soon as Duce Staley and Bettis are healthy, he'll probably go to the Practice Squad while either LB's Dedrick Roper or Andre Frazier are called up to play Special Teams. trend: steady

Draft Day Impressions: The Steelers must have liked what they saw in the Northwestern Offense. This is their second pick this year from that unit. This pick is looking towards 2006 when Vernon Haynes will be a free agent. If Herron looks solid, Haynes will not be resigned since he lacks sure hands and durability - both traits that Herron supposedly has. Also, Herron will be tried at backup Fullback so that the team can release Matt Cushing once and for all.

Grade: B, predicted grade after 3 years: B


Draft Day Analysis (April 2005)

The Steelers scored early and often in the 2005 Draft. After several years of productive first day choices, but disappointing second day choices, the Steelers seem to have put together two very solid days of Drafting. The team also got back to it's tried and true draft philosophy of mostly selecting players from big D1 schools who were productive, successful and durable in their collegiate careers.

Considering how well they've spent their money in the past, it would be east to say the Steelers are one of the top masters in finance in the NFL. It's important for a team that spends millions of dollars on their players to be careful with how they spend their money. Especially considering that when they draft a player it's usually for an extended period of time. This means the team must take partial responsibility for the players actions, offer them service, monitor their productivity, etc. In the past those newly drafted to the Steelers weren't even required to provide much to the team when they were first brought on, but in recent years they've been expected to earn their keep right away.

For the first time in 3 years, the team did not trade up in the Draft to select any player. Instead, they let the Draft come to them and I think it paid off Big Time. In the first round, the Steelers fulfilled their top need in Tight End Heath Miller who should have been draftet higher if not for a sports hernia injury. In the second round, CB Bryant McFadden, magically remained on the board for them. In the third, the team may have reached a bit with OT Trai Essex. In the fourth, the Steelers found great value in WR Freddy Gibson. In the fifth, LB Rian Wallace was still available. In the sixth, OG Chris Kemoeatu was a raging steal. In the 7th, good value was still found in DE Shaun Nua and RB Noah Herron.

Draft Grade: A-

updated 2/6/06

©Mark Berger,