Draft Picks:
1) RB Rashard Mendenhall
2) WR Limas Sweed
3)OLB Bruce Davis
4) OT Tony Hills
5) QB Dennis Dixon
6a) LB Mike Humpal
6b) S Ryan Mundy

Depth Chart

Pittsburgh Steelers 2008 Draft Picks

This Draft class barely contributed to the team. Thank goodness the Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2008.

The team's best Rookie was an undrafted linebacker from Duke who was a decent special teams player.

Not exactly great production. However, Mendenhall and Sweed have great potential, and Dennis Dixon will eventually be the #2 QB.

Davis and Hills look like busts in the making. If Ryan Mundy can develop into a solid player, it would be huge plus for this draft class.


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1st Round -Rashard Mendenhall Running Back,Illinois, 5'10", 225#

Draft Day Impressions: What good fortune! I never even considered it a possibility that Mendenhall would get picked by the Steelers in my Pre-Draft Evaluation Draft probablilty . I considered Jonanthan Stewart as a possibility, but not this player. That's the first time I have done that.

I am more than willing to sit with that egg on my face. Mendenhall is what the Steeler offense has been missing since Jerome Bettis retired after the 2005 season: a POWER Running back who can get the tough yards: move the chains on 3rd and short or punch in a Touchdown near the goal line. But he's not just a bruiser. He can score from anywhere on the field with his 4.4-40 speed.

His body type and running style is actually simillar to Barry Foster who had some of the most productive seasons running the ball in Steelers history.

Look for him to immediately displace Davenport as the short yardage back and eventually split time with Willie Parker as the primary runner.

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

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead in round #1: DL Kentwan Balmer (SF 1st Round), CB Mike Jenkins (DAL 1st Round) CB Antoine Cason (SD 1st Round)
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2nd Round - Limas Sweed Wide Receiver, Texas, 6'4", 215#

Draft Day Impressions: If the First round wasn't fortunate, this pick was a true gift. Sweed has the potential to be a #1 Wideout scoring 10TD's a year. His wrist injury, which cut short his Senior season, is what caused to him to fall. Most mock drafts had him projected to be taken in the late first round. The Steelers had him ranked as the 3rd best receiver in the Draft and one of the top 25 players overall!

He is big, tall, rangy receiver with good speed (4.5). He has a great vertical leap (36-37") and combined with his nearly 6-4" frame, he is a big-time red-zone threat. In his Junior season, he caught 12 TD's, matching Roy Williams' single season Longhorn record. Big Ben just gout his "big" wideout.

However, he's not just a guy who plays on the outside. He played in the slot at Texas and could be a great addition to the multiple wideout formations. He should immediately become the team's third wide receiver and eventually could become it's #1.

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

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead in round #2: DE Jason Jones (TEN 2th Round), WR Dexter Jackson, (TB 2nd Round), C Mike Pollak (2nd round IND), DE Kendall Langford (3rd Round, Miami)
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3rd Round - Bruce Davis Outside Libnebacker, UCLA, 6'3", 250#
Draft Day Impressions: The guy had 24 sacks in two seasons as a Defensive End, so he can sack the QB. Davis wasn't projected to go until the 4th or fifth round, so Steelers must have liked what they saw.

The Steelers will try to convert him to OLB like they did with LaMar Woodley last year. They have had a very good track record of converting DE's into OLB's (Porter, Gildon, Haggans, etc.). Davis played one season as an OLB as a Sophomore, so he should be able to make the transition.

Davis will immediately back-up All-Pro James Harrison.

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

Other players the Steelers could have drafted instead in round #3: CB Justin King (4th Round, STL) ,OT Anthony Collins (4th Round, CIN), DE DRE Moore (4th Round, TB), LB Cliff Avril (3rd Round, DET)
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4th Round - Tony Hills, Left OT, Texas. 6'6", 305#
Draft Day Impressions:
The second Texas Longhorn drafted this year.

Started two seasons as Left Tackle and has long arms. Injuries in his lower body have nagged him but he always showed determination fight through them. His best football could be ahead of him if he can stay healthy.

Texas coaches say he is better than OT Jonathan Scott who currently starts for Detroit. With Trai Essex and Max Starks already backing up starting Tackles Marvel Smith and Willie Colon, something has to give.

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

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5th Round - Dennis Dixon, Quarterback/Wideout, Oregon, 6'4", 205#
Draft Day Impressions: This pick is an intruiging surprise. The team already has Charlie Batch as a backup. Dixon may be the next Quarterback to be switched to Wide Receiver.

If it wasn't for his ACL injury, Dixon may have been a First round pick this year. He always was an excellent runner and last season, he dramatically improved his accuracy (67% completion) and in-the-pocket play. He was Pacific-10 Conference’s unanimous Offensive Player of the Year and led his team to an 8-1 record before getting hurt in November. At the beginning of the season, he was a leading contender for the Heisman award.

Excellent value.
Grade: A, Predicted Grade after 3 years: B-

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6th Round - Mike Humpal, Linebacker, Iowa, 6'3 ", 245#
Draft Day Impressions: He will try to fill the void left by Special Teams ace Klint Kreitwaldt.
Grade: C, Predicted Grade after 3 years: C

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6th Round - Ryan Mundy , Safety, West Virgina, 6'0" 205#
Draft Day Impressions: Good size and speed (4.5) should push for a back-up Safety position and contributte on Special teams.
Grade: B-, Predicted Grade after 3 years: B-


This Draft was not what anyone was expecting. The fans were hollering for drafting Offensive Lineman in the first, second and third rounds after the loss of Alan Faneca and Big Ben signed a $100 million contract. The local Pittsburgh media seemed to think that the Steelers would draft a Defensive lineman in the first round. Coach Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert both stated on several occasions that the team needed to get "bigger and younger on both lines." I wanted a Cornerback.

So what happened? The unexpected happened. And that's what makes the Draft so exicting, at least for me.

Surprising everyone, Power Running Back Rashard Mendenhall was availble for the Steelers at #23 in the First round and he will be an excellent compliment to Fast Willie Parker. Even more surprising, Big Wide Receiver Limas Sweed was available in the Second Round! Both players were considered by the Steelers to be among the top 25 players available in this years draft. That's two First round picks!

For these first two picks alone, this year's draft was excellent in value. Kudos to the Steelers Draft team for displaying patience and not panicking when all the talented Offensive Tackles were getting taken ahead of them in Round 1.

Draft Day
Grade: A-

©Mark Berger,