Friday, April 15, 2011

The NFL Draft is Just Around the Corner

It's a tricky draft to call.

It's tough to predict the Steelers' pick at No. 31 in the first round. Heck, it's tough to predict Carolina's pick with the No. 1 selection

The Steelers have plenty of holes to fill. At the moment, we're kind of leaning toward Texas cornerback Aaron Williams (if he's available), but we're open to other possibilities, especially on the offensive line and defensive line.

We've noticed Williams in big games the past couple years, however, and he seems to be one of those guys who just jumps off the television screen -- you can't help but see his talent. Granted, highlight plays can be misleading, but Williams seems to have the skills, the physical tools, the mindset and the background of playing in a big-time program.

Williams was featured (along with Nebraska cornerback Prince Makamura) on this week's segment of the NFL Network's "Game Changers" program featuring former coach Steve Mariucci, who sits down and runs through drills with a couple of top prospects every week. Although Amakamura is widely considered a top-10 pick and Williams is projected to last till late in the first round, Williams was every bit as impressive as Amakamura, and maybe more so, during this half-hour show. For what it's worth. Both players displayed humility, a positive, team-oriented attitude, and both came off as studious, serious and coachable. For what it's worth.

The Steelers need help at cornerback, so he just might be a good fit here. You can never have too many good cornerbacks. Of course, you can never have too many good offensive linemen, too, and right now the Steelers don't have enough. And, pretty soon they've not going going to enough defensive linemen, either, considering the age on the defensive line.

In the bigger picture, for some reason, this year's NFL draft seems somehow more unsettled than previous years, and it has nothing to do with the lockout.

What we
do know -- galling as it is -- is that the New England Patriots hold three of the first 33 picks -- two first round picks (No. 17 & 28) and the first pick in the second round (No. 33 overall) -- and six of the first 92 picks in the draft.

The Patriots went 14-2 last year.

A pox on the New England Patriots.

The Pirates are Back to Blah

Having lost four in a row, the Pirates are struggling once again. They're not hitting, for one thing.

Granted, we're only 12 games into the season, but the Pirates rank 16th (last) in the National League in runs scored, 15th on on-base percentage and 13th in slugging percentage.

After losing two at home to Colorado and then two more to Milwaukee, the Bucs' season record now stands at 5-7. At some point, hopefully in our lifetime, the Pirates are going to have to figure out a way to beat the Milwaukee Brewers, who absolutely own the Bucs, especially early in the season.

As noted in today's edition of the Post-Gazette ...

"Since 2005, the Pirates are 2-19 in April at home against the Brewers, including an unforgettable, 20-0 loss April 22, 2010.

"Things won't get easier with a four-game series in Cincinnati next. The Reds lead the National League Central Division and are 5-1 at Great American Ball Park. "

After the series in Cincinnati, the Bucs fly to the Miami area to take on the Marlins, then back to Pittsburgh to host the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants.

Hope for the best.