PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — A few quick thoughts after the Steelers took Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward with the 31st pick in the draft:
–If you’re wondering how Heyward will perform for the Steelers, go back and look at the first round picks made by Kevin Colbert during his time as Director of Football Operations–almost all of them have gone on to be very successful and productive players. That makes me feel pretty good about the pick of a guy who wasn’t a workout warrior, but was very productive and figures to be the perfect heir apparent to Aaron Smith in the Steelers’ 3-4 look.
–I was thrilled that the Steelers didn’t reach to get a cornerback like Aaron Williams or Brandon Harris with the pick, as I felt that neither guy was worthy of the 31st spot in the draft; but even if the Steelers get someone in the second or third round to play CB, it won’t change the fact that Ike Taylor’s asking price just went up, and that he has a lot more leverage in negotiations with the Steelers. I’ve wanted to see Taylor back all along, but he certainly didn’t get any cheaper after the first round of the draft.
–The measurables for Cam Heyward weren’t off the charts, but the production in big games, especially last year’s Sugar Bowl, was huge. I’d prefer to see the team take a player who produced over a workout wonder every day of the week. Not only that, but Heyward played for a team at Ohio State whose defense has been influenced by Dick LeBeau in recent years. Not suggesting that he can come in and start right away, but I do expect him to see significant playing time as a rookie.
–Barring some sort of freak injury, the presence of Ziggy Hood and Heyward on the defensive line should help make Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel more effective. Both guys are getting up there in years, Smith especially, but if the Steelers have a replacement for both DE’s that they can trust, then they’ll be able to rest Smith more and save him for what presumably will be another season where the Steelers are right in the mix for a playoff spot and a deep run.