Monday, April 15, 2013

Another Mystifying Personnel Move

On Saturday, April 27, 36 top college prospects will go off the board between Pittsburgh's 3rd-round pick (No. 79 overall) and 4th-round selection (No. 115 overall) in the NFL draft. 

For Steelers' fans, that will seem like an excruciatingly long wait. And each of the 24 players who gets drafted between the 91st pick overall and the 115th selection will provoke second-guessing for some time to come -- "The Steelers could have had that guy."

It will be interesting, and probably aggravating, to see who the New England Patriots select with its 3rd-round pick (No. 91 overall), which the Steelers could have had if they'd not matched New England's offer sheet to Sanders -- at nearly double the salary the Steelers had originally offered.

Maybe by that point the Steelers will have already selected one of the wide receivers we'd love to see in Black 'n Gold -- DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson), Stedman Bailey (WVU), or Markus Wheaton (Oregon State), Maybe, later in the draft, Zach Rogers (Tenn.), or another intriguing prospect.

What if running back Le'Veon Bell (Michigan State) is still on the board at No. 91? He might not still be there when the Steelers' fourth-round pick comes around at No. 115. What about an intriguing quarterback prospect? A cornerback, safety or linebacker?

The Steelers must have figured that any prospect likely to be available at No. 91 would not match the value Emmanuel Sanders will bring to the team this year (at $2.5 million). The Steelers must have figured that it usually tales a wide receiver two or three years to develop. Ben Roethlisberger clearly had a say in this decision. Whatever.

It's still mystifying, and more than a bit worrisome, that the Steelers kept Sanders. Before Sunday's decision by the Steelers was announced, the Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette spelled out very compelling reasons why the Steelers should let Sanders go to New England. A "no brainer" he called it, and we agreed.

Joey Porter's Pit Bulls don't like that the Patriots dictated the price for Sanders. We don't like losing the 91st pick in the draft. And we don't like the likelihood that Sanders will go to free agency at the end of the season. Sanders hasn't been reliably healthy, yet he's shown himself to be, eh, middling productive, a fairly polished receiver with the occasional flash play. He's so so-so. And he's going to be here for only one year, at a price the Patriots forced on the Steelers.

We don't like it. We'd have let him walk.

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