Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The 2008 Draft: With nobody left, "It was an embarrassing waste of resources..."

Oh, you thought the headline referred to the Steelers? ... because the storied Pittsburgh Steelers, our Pittsburgh Steelers, so frequently lauded for historical drafting prowess, have zero players left from the 2008 draft? ... our Pittsburgh Steelers who went 8-8 in 2012 and hold the 17th selection in next month's NFL Draft?

No, actually, Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com wrote that line ("an embarrassing waste of resources") about the 2008 draft of the chronically mediocre, middling and muddling Miami Dolphins, who went 7-9 in 2012 and hold the 12th overall pick in the draft.

"It was an embarrassing waste of resources," Gantt wrote of Miami's 2008 draft. "And part of the reason the Dolphins are now in a desperate game of catch-up."

Guess who else doesn't have any players left from the 2008 draft? The Steelers.

By "a desperate game of catch-up," presumably Gantt is referring to the Dolphins' recent signing of former Steeler wide receiver Mike Wallace to a five-year, $60 million contract, as well as other notable (expensive) free agents: Dannell Ellerbe (LB),  Brandon Gibson (WR), Dustin Keller (TE), Brian Hartline (WR), Matt Moore (QB), and Phillip Wheeler (LB).

By comparison, new signings by the Steelers last week included typically low-profile (cheap) free agents: backup QB Bruce Gradkowski, tight end Matt Spaeth and slot corner William Gay.

Make no mistake: We are glad to have been born and raised as Steeler fans; we are proud to be part of the Black 'n Gold Steeler Nation. There are lots of differences between the two franchises, and there's no way we'd trade places with Dolphins fans. Ever.

Unfortunately, however, there is one thing the two teams currently have in common, and which cannot be denied: Wasted drafts in 2008 and 2009, and that's why, to a large extent, both teams are where they are today.

The proud Steelers not only have zero players left from the 2008 draft, they have only one player left from the 2009 draft, and that is first-rounder defensive end Ziggy Hood, who hasn't exactly lived up to first-round billing.  

The Dolphins have been able to salvage two good starters from the 2009 draft, Brian Hartline (WR) and Chris Clemons (S), both of whom hit free agency this off-season but were then signed by Miami and retained.

Those two drafts, in 2008 and 2009, hurt both the Steelers and the Dolphins, and are the main reason why both teams are trying to rebuild.  

By contrast, a CBS Miami Website article titled, "Long's Departure Accentuates Parcells' Abysmal Failures," pointed out the following: 
"For comparison purposes, the Baltimore Ravens in 2008 drafted: quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Ray Rice, linebacker Tavares Gooden, and defensive back Tom Zbikowski with the teams’ first four picks. In 2009, Baltimore selected offensive tackle Michael Oher, linebacker Paul Kruger, and defensive back Lardarius Webb."

The point?  The Steelers had better get this draft right. They cannot afford to whiff ... they're already (still) paying the price for the 2008 and 2009 drafts. No room for mistakes this year.

We'd hate to think the Steelers are only on par with a mediocre team like the Dolphins. If the two teams squared off today, we'd think the Steelers would beat Miami ... but then, before the 2012 season, we thought the Steelers wouldn't lose to Oakland, Tennessee, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dallas and San Diego. They did.

Unlike the Steelers, the "Doll-phins" have been a mess for a long time and, unlike the Steelers, Miami still doesn't have a franchise quarterback, although they're trying to rebuild with last year's first-rounder, QB Ryan Tannehlill, who may or may not develop. Miami also lost three high-profile starters to free agency this off-season: LT Jake Long, RB Reggie Bush and CB Sean Smith.


Joey Porter's Pit Bulls don't care about the Doll-phins. We care about the Steelers. They need to get better. Fast. Enough of this mediocrity crap.

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