Staley Addition Gives Pittsburgh Free Reign In The Draft - By Neal Coolong

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

The Duce is loose. Be prepared to hear that after every Sunday that newly acquired Steelers running back Duce Staley rushes for 100 yards. Lame cliche aside, the reports from Pittsburgh are that Staley, a consistent 1000 yard rusher on a passing team for nine years, will fit in well. (If he takes No. 22 like he had in Philly, can we call him the Double Deuce, like the bar in "Roadhouse"?)

I've gone back and forth on this. He has a proven track record for success, but he has missed a decent amount of time through injury and, even worse, a contract dispute. He can catch the ball out of the back field, but with the Steelers offensive line in the shape it's currently in, how often will he be held back to block as opposed to setting up a screen?

Is he, despite being 29 years old, a sure-fire solution with a stud like Steven Jackson of Oregon State easily available at No. 11 in the draft?

Ok, Steven Jackson would have cost at least the longer term equivilent of the five-year, $14 million contract Staley signed. The ex-Eagle running back is seasoned, and has never played for a team that features the running game the way Pittsburgh does.

This is starting to sound like a match made in Heinz Field, huh?

Yeah, I thought so.

Here's the kicker, though.

His signing frees up nearly the entire draft, allowing Pittsburgh to concentrate on depth rather than immediate playing time.

Dewayne Washington's spot needs to be filled, and a three-deep corner position of Deshea Townsend, Chad Scott and Virginia Tech rookie DeAngelo Hall sounds like immediate production (more on the draft in a second). It's definite immediate production considering second-year strong safety Troy Polamalu is getting better, and Brent Alexander will have to fight off third-year guy Chris Hope for playing time.

Wait, there's ACTUAL competition in the secondary? Not just "play-this-guy-cuz-the-other-guy-sucks"?

Crazy.

The Staley signing is the catalyst of this entire spring. A major off-season overhaul that will affect the success of the Steelers' organization for the next few years.

And Hall is just one option. There's still the upstart quarterback Phillip Rivers from North Carolina State.

Maddox isn't getting any younger, and considering the AFC North clearly has the worst quarterbacks in the NFL as a whole, the development of a rookie over the next year or two, combined with the depth provided from this draft, could make the Steelers rip off another run of five straight division crowns.

I'm even going to throw this at you.

Even better than Rivers, Miami (Ohio) quarterback Ben Roethlisberger may just be on the board.

No, no, keep reading. Trust me.

Eli Manning looks to be the consensus No. 1 pick, it just depends by who. Larry Fitzgerald is too much of a star for Oakland to pass up at No. 2 (He and Jerry Porter together? Freaky).

This is where it gets a bit shady. New Arizona coach Dennis Green has ranted and raved about how much he loves quarterback Josh McCown. But anyone who has followed football knows the storyline of badboy Randy Moss falling to Green back in 1998 in Minnesota. Why wouldn't he want to follow the same pattern with an equally skilled receiver, but with a lesser criminal past?

I give you USC's Mike Williams. A physical specimen, it's real hard for any quarterback not to get him the ball.

Then you're looking at the second holdup of this theory: The Giants would have to have to decide between Roethlisberger and left tackle Robert Gallery. The sure-fire blindside protector or the talented quarterback. Recent trends in the NFL draft have been to look at bigger, more controlling positions to build around instead of the quarterback with the top five picks.

Look at the signal callers who have been taken five or higher the last few years: Tim Couch, Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington, David Carr.

Couch is a joke and words can't even describe the worthlessness of Leaf. You do have a future with guys like Harrington and Carr, but Houston and Detroit both passed on Julius Peppers. Carolina swooped him up and came one kicker's mistake away from overtime in the Super Bowl.

Because of that, they take Gallery. They'll keep Kerry Collins along for a little while longer because they can't pass on Gallery.

This is where the makeup of the teams selecting 5-10 don't merit a quarterback.

Washington just signed defensive tackle Marcus Washington, eliminating Tommie Harris from draft consideration. Joe Gibbs likes his offensive lineman and his tight ends. Kellen Winslow Jr. makes a convincing argument if Washington doesn't trade down to someone like Atlanta or Cleveland. Detroit has zero playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. Not too many on offense, either, but Sean Taylor is a no-brainer.

The damn Browns just signed Jeff Garcia, and will look to upgrade in different spots. This is another holdup in the Roethlisberger Theory. The strong possibility of trading down to a quarterback-hungry team exists here. Also, they could look to trade up to land Gallery.

But I see them going with a playmaker like Roy Williams so Garcia has a big target like Terrell "I'm a Raven, no I'm an Eagle" Owens.

Harris falls to Atlanta at eight.

Jacksonville desperately needs help in the receiving corps. I mean, geez, TROY EDWARDS plays for them. They have to take Reggie Williams or trade down. I mean, there is no excuse for holding Edwards on your roster. No wonder they don't win.

Houston has absolutely no need for a quarterback, and probably wouldn't be the smartest thing to pull another Drew Henson this year, Yeah...uh uh. They take Vince Wilfork.

Leaving...

Roethlisberger to Pittsburgh.

Large man. Great arm, smarter than a whip. No emotional baggage, posse members will be at an NFL low for quarterbacks. Sounds like a Pittsburgh guy.

While this has as many criteria as an 8-8 team on the bubble for the playoffs, it isn't entirely, completely, 100 percent out of the question.You heard it here first.

Most likely, Arizona takes him at three, but there might be more trades for the first 10 picks ever in NFL history.

Other than the Roethlisberger Theory, the Steelers spot will see prospects like Hall, Rivers, CB Dunta Robinson and CB Chris Gamble. No need to take OT Shawn Andrews way ahead of his worth.

And it's all thanks to The Duce. With that hole filled, it's time to build everyone else.