Draft Picks:
1) OLB Lawrence Timmons
2) LB/DE LaMarr Woodley
3) TE Matt Spaeth
4a) P Daniel Sepulveda
4b) DE Ryan McBean
5a) OG Cameron Stephenson
5b) CB William Gay
7) WR Dallas Baker

Depth Chart

Pittsburgh Steelers 2007 Draft Picks

3 year Draft Evaluation: The underperformance of this group as a whole contributed to the Steelers' drop in 2009. Timmons was a disapointment as a 3-down player while Woodley continued to get better. Spaeth is still lost in the Offense, but Sepulveda came back strong from his knee injury. Finally, Gay is not a starting DB in the NFL and will have to learn to be a Nickle back.

1st Round - Lawrence Timmons Outside Linebacker, Florida St., 6'1", 235#

2009 Evaluation: With Larry Foote leaving for Detroit, Timmons assumed the starting ILB role sooner than expected. Unfortunately, he wasn't ready. While he is still a demon on the blitz and great in coverage, his instincts defending the run are suspect, at best. Oftentimes, he shuffles late to the play, missing the tackle or falling on the pile. With his incredible speed and size, he should dominate and consistently plug run lanes, but it's his head that needs a workout. Fortunately, coaching can do that and I hope Timmons will realize his full potential in 2010. Trend: Down




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2008 Evaluation: Lawrence is really coming along and in 2008 he found a home at inside linebacker. He can really run and is tenacious. He rush the QB from any angle, outside or inside, and he is excellent in coverage. In the open field, he can chase down and tackle just about any running back in the league that catches a swing pass. Trend: Up

His only liability right now is stout strength. His first instinct is to run, run anywhere, when sometimes the best play is to hold his ground and let the play come to him a little bit. When teams run right at Timmons, they can gain good yardage. Still, a very promising player who will one day soon take over for Larry Foote. Trend: Up

2007 Evaluation: Simply a disappointment for a 1st round pick. The big question is: where will Timmons play in 2008? He could backup at Outside Linebacker, but that could keep him off the field for another 2-3 years. The logical place for him is inside linebacker in the 3-4. There, he could use his straight-line speed to chase down ball carriers, rush the passer and drop into coverage. He would be an immediate improvement over Larry Foote and he could be groomed to replace James Farrior. Trend: Steady/Down

Mid-Season Update: Timmons has flashed his amazing speed for a big man on punt coverage units and has made some nice open field tackles and recovered a fumble against the Ravens (Nov 7).

His ultimate position is probably at Inside LB in a 3-4 scheme because he has such great speed to cover sideline to sideline and agility to avoid blockers. I would love to see him replace Larry Foote next year and eventually James Farrior, after he retires. He is a 3-down player for sure, no matter where he starts the game. Trend: Up/Steady

2007 Pre-Season Update: Poor Timmons had a groin pull through most of training camp, so he is not playing fast because he is thinking. However, he is tenacious and never gives up on plays. He looks to be an excellent special teams player, for this season, and that is where he has shown excellent speed and great determination to make plays. Trend: Steady

Draft Day Impressions: One of the most "needy" first round picks in years. Timmons has great potential and only played 1 year as a starter in college. He needs to get better in a hurry because the Steelers secondary sure could use pressure on the QB. He seems a little small for a 3-4 OLB and doesn't have the fastest 40 time (4.59). Steelers had their eye on Pitt CB Darrell Revis who was snatched by the Jets one pick earlier in a last minute trade-up.

On the positive side, Timmons is explosive and has some sick pass rush moves. He is only 20 years old which means his best is still ahead of him. Coaches compared his physique to legendary Steeler OLB Greg Lloyd. In 2007, he should be a great special teamer and also play in nickel or dime defensive packages to give James Harrison a break on the weak side. By 2008, he should start.

This pick also leaves the door open for a switch to a 4-3 defensive base down the road as Timmons could play either scheme equally well. This year, they can experiment moving him around to see where he is most disruptive. Ideally, the Steelers would have traded down 3-10 spots and still picked him.

Draft Grade: C, Predicted Grade after 3 years: B-

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead in round #1: DB Leon Hall (CIN 1st Round), DE/LB Anthony Spencer (DAL 1st Round), DB Aaron Ross (NYG 1st Round)
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2nd Round - LaMarr Woodley Linebacker/Defensive End, Michigan, 6'2", 265#

2009 Evaluation: Woodley continued to get better in 2009, although his critics said he was "streaky" getting his sacks in bunches and disapearing in some games. I saw none of that, although at times he got beat when teams ran at him. Still, he led the team in sacks and several times dominated games. A Pro Bowl is probabaly in his near future. Trend: Up

2008 Evaluation: LaMar is a monster! Teamed with NFL Defensive player of the year, James Harrison, they re-wrote the record book for sacks by outside linebackers on the same team.

With the emergence of Woodley opposite Harrison, there's no way the Steeerls win their 6th SB. And the man can even cover, too! But his true strength is rushing the passer. He's big, quick and relentless. It was a crime he wasn't vited to the Pro Bowl. That should stop very soon.

My only conern is his weight. He sometimes looks a little TOO big for a 'backer. Trend: Way Up

2007 Evaluation: To me, this guy has the most upside potential of the entire class. He had 4 sacks in the regular season and 2 in the Playoff game while backing up Clark Haggans. Woodley should start in place of Haggans next year who probably will not re-sign with the Steelers. A promising start to his career. Trend: Up

Mid-Season Update: This guy is the real deal and may push Clark Haggans out of his Outside LB starting job next year, or even this year if he keeps improving. But it is a lot to ask a Rookie to start in the Steelers' complicated D.

Nevertheless, he is amazingly productive. Whenever he is on the field, he is either making tackles, QB hurries, sacks, and even a forced fumble! And that was exactly the story on him coming out of Michigan as one of the most decorated Defensive players to ever come from Ann Arbor.

The only potential for concern is his weight. He is already at 265# and Line Coach John Mitchell said that he looked about "one Big Mac" away from joining the Defensive ends. It's nothing to worry about since New England LB Adalius Thomas carries about 270#, but I'll be keeping an eye on his waist line over the next few years. Hopefully, the Steelers will not re-try a Mike Vrabel type experiment and move Woodley to DE if he gains weight. Trend: Up

2007 Pre-Season Update: Woodley is everything as advertised. He is a great pass rusher and led the team with 3 sacks in the preseason. The surprising aspect of his game is as a linebacker in coverage. He shows no liabilities in this area. He will play a lot as a Rush end in the Nickel and Dime defenses. Trend: Up

Draft Day Impressions: I love his production and pedigree coming out of college. He was the first Michigan player to ever win the Lombardi trophy as the nation's best lineman (offensive or defensive). Consensus All-America, led his team in sacks two years in a row and won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's best Defensive End.

Not the fastest 40 time (4.66) but a great player who knows how to play the game and is very quick off the snap. Also has experience playing on his feet as a linebacker which is what he projects to be with the Steelers. He will be groomed to take over for OLB Clark Haggans who turns 30 this year. Even better, he is ready to play right away as a defensive end in passing situations in the Steelers dime package.

Like the Timmons pick, this player leaves the door open for a switch to a 4-3 down the road. I thought Woodley was 1st round talent, so I think this is very good value in the 2nd round.

Draft Grade: B, Predicted Grade after 3 years: B+

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead in round #2: LB Justin Durant (JAX 2th Round), RB Brian Leonard, (STL 2nd Round), BC Josh Wilson (2nd round SEA)
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3rd Round - Matt Spaeth Tight End, Minnesota, 6'7", 270#
2009 Evaluation: Matt's blocking got a little better, but he disapeared from the passing game. His biggest play was backing up Jeff Reed during a parking lot brawl with the police. Nice job - hanging with the kicker? I hope he's gone in 2010. Trend: Down

2008 Evaluation: Matt has to get better blocking. Simple as that. He was routinely spanked by Defensive Ends during the season. Case in point: Super Bowl, 1st Quarter. Steelers 1st and Goal from the Arizona One: hand off to Gary Russell who tries to run off-tackle and is immediately stopped by Matt Speath's blocking assignment - 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Trend: Down

2007 Evaluation: Spaeth cooled off down the stretch which was probably due to fatigue from the very long NFL season, but he continued to be a solid blocker even when his pass receptions tailed off. He should only improve from here. Trend: Steady

Mid-Season Update: As I mentioned above, Spaeth has been a vital part of the Steelers' suddenly explosive offense. He blocks well in-line and is a dangerous receiver, especially in the Red Zone. 3 of his 4 catches have been for Touchdowns in the Red zone.

What has been most impressive is his blocking. Finally, the offense can run the ball out of 2-TE sets because he is such a dangerous receiver. Trend: Way Up

2007 Pre-Season Update: Hasn't done much catching, but he IS a dependable, good blocker. Could easily replace Jerame Tuman one day, if not this year. Trend: Steady

Draft Day Impressions: A somewhat shocking pick. After Colbert said the team would not take a QB or Tight End in the first round, you would think they would not take one in the first day. Apparently, coach Tomlin had some inside knowledge and experience with the player after spending last season with the Minnesota Vikings. But that begs the question: why didn't the Vikings pick him 5 slots earlier in the 3rd round? He was the John Mackey award winner as the nation's best Tight End. The Steelers claim he fell because of a bum shoulder that required off-season surgery which is exactly what happened to Heath Miller before he was drafted.

My guess is that in this spot the Steelers were targeting a big WR, but were stymied when Jacoby Jones and Jason Hill were taken just picks before them. In any case, Spaeth will start out as the #3 TE behind Heath Miller and Jerame Tuman.

Eventually, he will replace Tuman as the #2, blocking focused Tight End. Maybe he can fatten up and eventually become a nice Left Tackle like Larry Brown did back in the 70's.

This pick was especially surprising because power back Tony Hunt from Penn St. was available for the Steelers to take. Apparently, the Steelers did not like his speed (or lack thereof).

Draft Grade: C-, Predicted Grade after 3 years: C

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead in round #3: WR Michael Walker (3rd Round, JAX) , DB Jonathan Wade (3rd Round, STL), OLB Stewart Bradley (3rd Round, PHI), RB Tony Hunt (3rd Round, PHI)
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4th Round - Daniel Sepulveda, Punter, Baylor. 6'2", 230#
2009 Evaluation: Daniel came back nicely from his knee injury and became one of the better punters in the NFL. A Sports Illustrated article ranked him 10th among all punters. Trend: Up

2008 Evaluation: Was on IR all year after blowing out another ACL. Trend: Down

2007 Evaluation: The Steelers 2007 Rookie of the Year had a solid season. He is a master of the pouch punt and battled through some minor injuries during the season. When healthy at the end of the season, his leg strength was evident. It's a sad day when your punter is the Rookie MVP, but it shouldn't take anything away from Sepulveda. The Steelers were wise to trade up in the 4th round to get him. Trend: Steady

Mid-Season Update: The expectations have been high for the Rookie punter (at least from me). He has handled the job well and already outperformed last year's punter, Gardocki, statistically speaking.

He is particularly adept at downing punts inside the 20 with the Aussie-style upside-down hold. I have seen only 1 or 2 real boomers (over 50 yards), but then again the Steelers have moved the ball so well, rarely are they backed up in their own end of the field. Trend: Steady

2007 Pre-Season Update: At times he has played great with excellent long, directional kicks, and at other times, not so great with an ugly shank against Philly. With consistency, Sepulveda could be a Pro-Bowl punter. Trend: Steady

Draft Day Impressions: The most interesting pick in the Steelers Draft. This guy is a linebacker who can kick the crap out of the ball! I can't wait to see him boom one and then run down field and knock the stuffing out of someone! Watch this for a preview of what he can do to a punt returner. Youza!

He is a very accomplished punter. He was the All-time leader in NCAA history in average yards per punt. That means that he kicked the ball further, more consistently than anyone who ever played college football. Amazing. Two time Ray Guy award recipient as the best punter in the nation, too.

Too boot (ha, ha), he's a left footed punter which is an added bonus. He also knows how to kick the stub ball which rotates backwards. He should be the Steelers punter for the next 10 years.

The Steelers had to trade up by giving a 6th round choice to the packers, but who cares if he turns out to be one the best punters in the league.
Draft Grade: B+, Predicted Grade after 3 years: A

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4th Round - Ryan McBean, Defensive Line,Oklahoma St. 6'4", 285#
2008 Evaluation: Cut in training camp. Trend: Down and Out

2007 Evaluation: Nothing doing here. He has to show something in training camp in 2008 to stick around. Trend: Down

Mid-Season Update: This guy is lucky to be on the Practice Squad. Trend: Steady

2007 Pre-Season Update: This guy doesn't look like a 3-4 end and he doesn't play like one either. He gets engulfed by linemen and dominated by double-teams. To his credit, he has great feet and a high-motor. Looks like the prefect fit for the 4-3 next year. Meanwhile, he is on the Practice squad. Trend: Down

Draft Day Impressions: A Jamaican immigrant who hasn't played a lot of football. Is very quick off the line and uses his hands well to beat blockers. More pass rush ability than previous draft picks projected as 3-4 ends (see Orien Harris and Shaun Nua).

Should be able to beef up to 300 pounds, but would also be good as a DT in a 4-3 scheme if the Steelers wanted to go that way.

Seems to be a promising kid who works hard and hasn't played his best football yet.
Grade: B-, Predicted Grade after 3 years: B

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5th Round - Cameron Stephenson, Guard, Rutgers, 6'3", 305#
2008 Evaluation: Cut in training camp. Trend: Down and Out

2007 Evaluation: With the official departure of Alan Faneca, there is an opening for Stephenson, albeit a very small one. The Steelers only have two pure guards on the roster: Kendall Simmons and Chris Kemoeautu. We'll see what he brings in training Camp in 2008. Trend: Steady

Mid-Season Update: This guy is on the Practice Squad and never dressed for a game. Trend: Steady

2007 Pre-Season Update: Has been hurt most of training camp and hasn't shown much in the games. Cut on the final day and not signed to the Practice Squad. Trend: Down and Out

Draft Day Impressions: This pick is insurance against Alan Faneca leaving. Kid is a Tongan who grew up in Australia. Like McBean, he hasn't played much football, only 1 year as a starting offensive lineman. Has good feet which is a nice departure from past Steeler offensive line prospects (see: Max Starks and Chris Kemoatu). Should be coachable and hasn't reached his potential yet and wants to get better.

A bit high for this prospect since he didn't play in a top Division 1 school.
Grade: C, Predicted Grade after 3 years: B-

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5th Round - William Gay, Corner, Louisville, 5'10", 185#
2009 Evaluation: Poor William Gay. The NFL brutally exposes weak players and Gay was the weakest link on the Steelers Defense in 2009. Opposing offenses would consistently target him and exploit his generally ineffective play. He couldn't cover very well, tackle very well (Adrian Peterson's steam roller hit is an all-time classic) or intercept (0 picks). Gay will have to play Nickle back in the future if he wants to stay in the NFL. Trend: Down

2008 Evaluation: Gay really came on strong and showed that he can play solid corner when given support over the top with a safety. Gay bascially split time with B-Mac and now that he has left to play for Arizona, Gay will be a starting corner for the Steelers. Nice job Steeler coaches for bringing up a player drafted on the second day to be a starter in his 3rd season. Trend: Up

2007 Evaluation: A very good Rookie season for Gay who could develop into a crafty pass defender. Shows excellent instincts and good tackling ability. Trend: Steady

Mid-Season Update: Gay is an aware, nifty little corner who displaced underachiever Ricardo Colclough in the Dime Defense.

He has a knack for stripping the ball and looks to be a solid corner, especially in a Cover-2 shell. Lack of deep speed will prevent him from ever becoming a starting corner in a 3-4 defense though. Trend: Steady

2007 Pre-Season Update: This guy belongs in the NFL. He has made a ton of plays in the pre-season: 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble and 1 sack. Should be the Steelers' 4th corner this year. To me, the best Rookie pick in pre-season. Trend: Up

Draft Day Impressions: He is being touted as the next Deshea Townsend. Problem is, Deshea was a lot quicker and 40-fatser coming out of college. Still, Gay had 6 picks as a senior and has a chance to push Colclough for a roster spot and possibly play as a slot defender in the Dime.
Grade: C-, Predicted Grade after 3 years: D

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7th Round - Dallas Baker, Wide Receiver, Florida, 6'3" 210#
2009 Evaluation: Cut in training camp. Trend: Down and Out

2008 Evaluation: Played a few games and caught a couple of balls, but eventually landed on the Practice Squad. Trend: Down

2007 Evaluation: Never got on the field, but will have a shot again in the 2008 Training Camp because the Steelers, and particularly Big Ben, want a big receiver on the field who can go over the middle. Trend: Steady

Mid-Season Update: This guy is on the Practice Squad and never dressed for a game. Trend: Steady

2007 Pre-Season Update: Dropped one pass thrown his way and hasn't played at all on special teams. But the kid can block - he executed a nice in-motion crack-back against Philly. Signed to the Practice Squad. Trend: Down

Draft Day Impressions: The Steelers finally drafted a Big WR to help round out the position. However, if he doesn't play special teams well, he has no chance of making the team. Still, he fits the bill. He played on a championship team in a major college program and was very productive (10 TD's, 920 yards on 60 catches in 2006). He has ok speed (4.55 40) but seems to have nice hands. He looks slow coming off the snap but can juke off the jam. The nephew of former NFL WR Wes Chandler. Decent value in the 7th round.
Grade: B-, Predicted Grade after 3 years: C


Draft Day Analysis (April 2007)

The Steelers filled their most glaring need at Outside Linebacker with their first and second round picks, and got a new starting Punter. Other than that, the rest of the players drafted this year will need to time to develop and most likely won't see any game time. The team seems to have covered all of its needs except getting a Power/Short yardage running back (n.b. the team did sign free agent Kevan Barlow from the Jets who could fill that role). The Steelers didn't do much dealing (except to trade up to secure Sepulveda) and didn't get great value for their picks.

Colbert and company insist that they got the player they wanted in Timmons which is nice, but he won't replace Joey Porter this year. This draft looks average today. Of course, the players and how they are coached and employed on the field will ultimately determine the grade for this Draft class.

Draft Day Grade: C

2007 Mid-Season Update: This draft class is surprisingly productive and a big reason why the Steelers are having a very good season.

The Big Surprise at 6'7" and probably the best Rookie so far is TE Matt Spaeth who is catching touchdowns, blocking well and generally doing everything that Jerame Tuman was supposed to do.

The other top picks are also contributing nicely on Special Teams, and in situational defenses.

1 Year Draft Grade: C

Making the Playoffs in 2007 would usually indicate that the team's Rookie class made a big impact, but this wasn't the case.

Matt Spaeth was a nice #2 Tight End. William Gay was a solid 4th corner and linebacker LaMarr Woodley showed great promise as a backup. But it was the new punter, Daniel Sepulveda, who was the overwhelming choice for Rookie of the Year. And that tells you how average the contribution was from this Rookie class.

2 Year Draft Grade: B-

2 year Draft Evaluation: This Draft class clearly propelled the team to their 6th Super Bowl. While Matt Spaeth still can't block, the rest of group made big contributions on Defense, particularly CB William Gay and OLB LaMarr Woodley. The punter was on IR all year, but Daniel Sepulveda, should come back strong.


©Mark Berger,