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|Posté le: Mer 19 Sep - 05:41 (2018) Sujet du message: Evolving his game
|The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t take an inside linebacker in the NFL draft. That doesn’t mean they didn’t want one.
It simply means when it came time to pick Demarcus Robinson Jersey , they looked at their internal draft board, they looked at the players available in a position where there – at least on the surface – appears to be a serious depth issue and decided they didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks.
”We’re not going to reach,” general manager Kevin Colbert said.
So the perennial AFC power didn’t. Whenever the Steelers found themselves on the clock, coach Mike Tomlin would urge Colbert to ”respect the board.”
Translation: pick the players we think are the best, not necessarily the ones that check off a box just to do it.
The result? Seven selections that focused on versatility not availability.
First-round pick Terrell Edmunds did a little bit of everything in the defensive backfield for Virginia Tech. Tomlin believes wide receiver James Washington – taken in the second round – can line up anywhere on the field.
Third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor is considered a swing tackle who could thrive under Hall of Fame line coach Mike Munchak.
Safety Marcus Allen was a proven sure tackler during his time at Penn State. Fullback Jaylen Samuels could be a tailback, a fullback, a tight end or even a slot receiver depending on what’s required. Seventh-round pick Joshua Frazier was part of the defensive line rotation at Alabama who could press for a roster spot.
”We believe these guys can not only help us in the future but they’re capable of helping us this year if they earn it,” Tomlin said. ”These guys will be given an opportunity to carve out roles for themselves this year and if they do and it’s significant, great.”
HEIR APPARENT? Colbert pointed out the Steelers aren’t old at any position other than perhaps quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger turned 36 last month but has been telling teammates he could play several more seasons.
That’s fine by the Steelers. It also, however, didn’t stop them trading up to make sure they landed Oklahoma State star Mason Rudolph in the third round, just 16 picks after they drafted Washington, his college teammate.
”We valued (Rudolph) as much as the rest of the quarterbacks that were drafted (in the first round),” Colbert said.
A sentiment that could be telling about Pittsburgh’s intentions with the 6-foot-5 Reshad Jones Jersey , 235-pound Rudolph, the first quarterback drafted before the fourth round by Pittsburgh since the Steelers took Roethlisberger 11th overall 14 years ago.
The five quarterbacks taken in the first round are all projected as future starters. Read between the lines and the Steelers perhaps feel the same about Rudolph.
IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Washington, who won the Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver in the FBS last season, reminded Tomlin of JuJu Smith-Schuster, whom the Steelers took in the second round last season. All Smith-Schuster did was lead all rookies in touchdown receptions in 2017 with seven while also developing a reputation as a big-time blocker.
”He’s probably not the fastest but he’s as good a deep receiver that played college football this year,” Colbert said of Washington. ”We think James can play outside and we think he can play inside and he may even have a chance to work as a return guy.”
SAFETY DANCE: The previous time the Steelers took a safety in the first round, they used the 16th overall pick in 2003 to draft Troy Polamalu. It’s heady territory for Edmunds, though Pittsburgh didn’t hesitate in part because of the many different roles Edmunds filled in for Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s scheme with the Hokies. Free safety. Strong safety. Linebacker. Edmunds can do a little bit of everything.
Allen wasn’t required to do quite as much with the Nittany Lions but both safeties head to the NFL with solid reputations as guys who can wrap up and not let go, a valuable commodity these days.
”To be able to add some guys that not only play the safety position but are physical tacklers … I think it’s been a good weekend for us from that perspective,” Tomlin said.
WHAT’S INSIDE: Ryan Shazier created the indelible moment of the draft when he walked to the podium in Texas to announce Pittsburgh’s first-round pick, his first public steps since injuring his spine in a game against Cincinnati in December. The Pro Bowler has already been ruled out for the 2018 season. Still, Pittsburgh didn’t use the draft to search for Shazier’s possible replacement.
Maybe that’s because they already like what they have in Jon Bostic, who signed as a free agent in March. Bostic started 14 games for Indianapolis in 2017 and given his productivity and former seventh-round pick Tyler Matakevich’s potential, they didn’t feel a sense of urgency to find a marquee name.
STILL NEED: Regardless of Colbert’s spin Cortez Kennedy Jersey , inside linebacker remains a bit of a question mark. The Steelers have bodies but not much proven talent beyond Bostic and Vince Williams. Running back is still a bit of a question mark considering Le’Veon Bell’s uncertain future. He could be gone after next season if the team can’t sign him to a long-term deal and Stevan Ridley and James Conner are the two options behind him on the depth chart.
Twelve-year-old Logan Powell was already a die-hard Seattle Seahawks fan, even growing up in a household with a Steelers-loving dad.
If possible, Powell's enthusiasm for the Seahawks was amplified when Seattle selected Shaquem Griffin in the fifth round of the NFL draft last spring. Powell didn't know who exactly Griffin was before the Seahawks selected him. He just knew there was a college player with one hand who wanted to play in the NFL.
"I was like 'Ah, that would be cool if he was on the Seahawks,'" said Powell, who wears a prosthetic left leg. "And then he was drafted by the Seahawks."
Powell and seemingly everyone else now knows Griffin's story.
How doctors amputated Griffin's left hand when he was 4 years old, a day after his mother found him in the kitchen attempting to cut off his jelly-like fingers. His fingers hurt whenever he touched anything, the result of amniotic band syndrome, a congenital birth defect.
The chance he was given to play college football at UCF. The remarkable college career where he was the best defensive player in his conference and one of the best in the country.
And ultimately being provided a chance to play in the NFL for the team his twin brother already played for.
Griffin's story will likely add another unplanned chapter on Sunday in Denver, one nobody could have expected on the day he was drafted by Seattle. He'll do more than just play in his first NFL regular-season game. Griffin will be one of the starting linebackers for the Seahawks with K.J. Wright out due to minor knee surgery.
The player who has been told countless times he can't will make his professional debut as a starter.
For kids like Powell, it's even more inspiration. If someone missing a hand can start in the NFL, then what is possible?
"He's just proved he can do whatever he wants because he worked hard for it," Powell said.
Griffin's work ethic has been cited by coaches and scouts as the driving reason the 23-year-old is even in the NFL. But being an NFL player has brought another responsibility, one greater than what he experienced in college. Griffin understands he will always have a role beyond just being a football player.
It's the reason why after Seattle's final preseason game he spent time back on the turf of CenturyLink Field meeting with kids from NubAbility Paul Hornung Jersey , a nonprofit whose mission is to "encourage, inspire and instruct limb-different youth in mainstream sports." He signed autographs. He posed for pictures. Powell was there among those listening intently to what Griffin had to say well after 11 p.m. on the field of a mostly empty stadium.
Griffin said he didn't have a specific message to share; it was simply a chance to relish in the camaraderie of being together and seeing what was possible.
"There's no exact message. It's just us doing what we love doing," Griffin said. "That's living out our dreams. That's us choosing what we want to do. There's not really a message because we're all on the same page. We all support each other. Having them come support me is another step along the way. It's just living out our dreams the best that we can."
Right in the middle of talking to the kids and signing autographs was Shaquem's twin brother Shaquill, the Seahawks' second-year starting cornerback. He's helped his brother manage the transition from college to the NFL. He's been just as important in supporting and promoting what his brother has already accomplished.
"It means the world to me. Just seeing the people that look up to us, kids that are still pushing for what they believe in," Shaquill said. "You understand what kind of role you've really got playing this sport, using this platform. I feel like what my brother is doing and what I'm continuing to do is way bigger than football 鈥?the giving back to others and motivating them and give them something to dream about. That's what we play for, and being in that situation and talking to those kids, it's a lifetime thing and something I always look forward to."
Of course, there still is the football aspect to Griffin's story and why so much attention will be placed on his debut. Seattle knew it was getting a tremendous athlete that could be an immediate contributor on special teams when it drafted Griffin. Whether he would play on defense would depend on how quickly he grasped the scheme and found a position.
The Seahawks ultimately decided to use Griffin in space and slot him as Wright's backup. Compared to Wright in size, Griffin looks more like he should be a safety than a linebacker. But he's taken to the position, even after a rough second preseason game when he looked lost and overwhelmed, which led to conversations with coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. about how to be more like the player they saw in college.
Griffin showed what Carroll and Norton wanted to see over the final two preseason games. And now he gets the chance to show it in a game that matters.
"When you're a young guy trying to do everything for everybody, it's insurmountable. That's kind of how he was looking at it Barkevious Mingo Jersey ," Carroll said. "He was tight, he wanted to please everybody, he was just trying to do too much stuff. We simplified it, got his language really clearer, what he was intending on trying to get done 鈥?like making his drops, making his reads and stuff, just simplify things 鈥?and he's a really good ballplayer, he just took to it.
"I think he took also the fact that we showed confidence in him. Instead of ripping his butt about what he couldn't do, we told him what he could do, and he's kind of followed it. All of a sudden he felt like he was very comfortable and much more at home, so we'll see how it works."
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