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2003 Draft: Molding the Future

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Leave YOUR Writing on the Wall! Send us your predictions, comments, & analysis about the 2001 draft. Whether your message is a simple "draft a QB" statement or detailed analysis, tell us what you think and we'll post it below.

Draft Class of 2003
Click on player name for bio.
Troy Polamalu SS USC
Alonzo Jackson DE Florida St.
Traded to K.C.
Ivan Taylor DB Lafayette
Brian St. Pierre QB Boston C.
Traded to K.C.
J.T. Wall FB Georgia

ALL Picks by Round:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Prospect Listing by:
Players | Teams
Schools | Positions

ESPN's Info on
Top Draft Prospects
QB | RB | WR | TE
OT | OG | C | DT
OLB | CB | S | P/K

Steelers Get Their Man!
Bold trade nets safety Troy Polamalu
By McMillen & Wife

Once the Steelers fingered their man, they were commited to doing -- in the words of the immortal Chuck Noll -- "whatever it took" to get him. In an unprecidented trade which sent Pittsburgh's 3rd and 6th-round picks to Kansas City in return for flip-flopping slots in the 1st-round with the Chiefs, the Steelers chose USC's All-American strong safety Troy Polamalu. Polamalu was the 16th overall pick and was easily the highest-rated safety in the draft. I really like this pick, people! CLICK HERE for evaluations of each class of '03 player.

    Article by Tom Hayes
Steelers apply "win now" philosophy in first round.
By Tom Hayes (aka, TFH on message board)

Bottom line on Troy Polamalu: What other safety prospect would you - could you – plug in as a starter for the Steelers this season who’d be a significant improvement over Lee Flowers today and something much more tomorrow? I think my answer is none. While, for the moment, coach Cowher insists that Troy will take a back seat to Mike Logan this year, I’ll bet it won’t play out that way. Troy’s talent and Mike’s knee agree with me. This kid has almost everything you want out of a draft pick: sky high potential, desire, textbook football skills (i.e. tackling) and tons of intangibles. By my accounting, he has just four knocks against him:

1) At 5’10”, he gives up some size to the Heaps & Shockeys of the world.
2) His coverage skills need some work.
3) He has a history of concussions – 3 total for his college career with the last being prior to his senior season.
4) He’s a Steeler first rounder named Troy and that brings some bad vibes.

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Two of those are well within his power to change. He might need work in coverage but he does have the tools – not the least of which is 4.33 40 speed. And the way he plays will likely never remind anyone of the now departed Mr. Edwards. Concussions? We can only hope that this guy doesn’t become football’s answer to Eric Lindros. As for size, while no amount of coaching will ever make him bigger than 5’10” or lengthen his arms, he’s got good leaping ability to help make up for some of that.

Reading the pre-draft evals of the other safeties, I’m left with the impression that each was found wanting at least one of two major things that we’d like to have in a 21st century SS: upside (i.e. the kind of measurables worthy of late first round selection and that translate to standing a chance in coverage) and/or football skills (i.e. …tackling!).

The above is, in part, why I think trading a #3 and #6 pick to draft Troy P. shows the Steelers in a “win now” mode. They had other, maybe even better, options for extracting long-term value from this draft. Consider: had they not made the trade, many of the names bandied about prior to the draft were still on the board at pick 27. Just within the confines of DB, they could’ve taken one of the hybrids to play safety (Mathis, Asomugha) or they could’ve snagged a pretty good corner prospect (Davis, Woolfolk). Again, however, these options seem to call for more development time and, if considering the corners, call for the additional headache of either moving Scott to safety or importing a Sammy Knight as a near-term solution.

No, the other prospects taken on their own don’t seem to stack up - as you might expect when comparing the 16th pick to the 27th - but when you think about the other two picks we traded, it gets a bit more interesting. The most intriguing idea is that we could’ve added Dennis Weathersby – considered a late first rounder prior to the shooting - in the bottom of the third. Count on him this year? No, but he wasn’t shot in the leg and paying round three dollars to have round one talent roaming next year’s secondary sure sounds attractive. Even if – in this alternate reality – someone had taken him off the board prior to our #3, one often can get a darn good player in that round. Round 6 is not without its success stories either.

As I see it, the Steelers chased Polamalu not because he necessarily represented the best overall value for those three picks that they spent to get him. Rather, with him they compromised a chance at long term better value to get one very good now / great later prospect. Troy Polamalu appears to be ready for prime time and that’s where the Steelers hope they’re headed this year – prime time… in January.

Article by Tom Hayes (aka, TFH on message board)

2003 Draft Picks at a Glance
Info from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette


Name: Troy Polamalu
Position: Safety
College: Southern California
Chosen: 16th overall
Size: 5-10, 206 pounds
Scouting report: Fast, smart, tough, a safety who can hit and cover with the best of them. ... Not as tall as most teams like for a safety but he can fly and separate a receiver from the ball with a big hit. ... Runs a 4.35 in the 40 and has a 38.5-inch vertical jump. ... First-team All-American last year. ... Rated the best safety in the draft. ... Returned three interceptions for touchdowns in his career and blocked four punts. ... Steelers plan to plug him in as starter for departed Lee Flowers at strong safety. ... Has been called the best defensive back at USC since Ronnie Lott in 1980. ... Team captain. ... Has had some problems with concussions, including one last year, but Steelers doctors cleared him. ... Three-year starter. ... Lived in tiny Tenmile, Ore., since he was 9 with his uncle, the chief of his Samoan family, because his mother wanted to get him out of Los Angeles and away from trouble. ... Another uncle, Al Pola, played football at Penn State. ... Name is pronounced Poe-a-MA-lu.


Name: Alonzo Jackson
Position: Outside linebacker
College: Florida State
Chosen: 59th overall
Size: 6-3 1/2, 266 pounds
Scouting report: Played defensive end in college, but Steelers will convert him to outside linebacker, something they've done successfully in the past. ... Only Steelers linebacker who weighed more was Levon Kirkland, but not as a rookie. ... Steelers hoping to use him immediately as a right outside pass rusher in their dime defense. ... Started the past two seasons, plus four games as a sophomore. ... From Americus, Ga., also home of former Steelers assistant Chan Gailey and Atlanta Coach Dan Reeves. ... Ranked second in the ACC with 13 sacks, fourth in the school's history and his 23 career sacks rank fifth. ... Has a good rip pass-rushing move. ... Runs a 4.73 in the 40.


Name: Ivan (Ike) Taylor
Position: Cornerback
College: Louisiana-Lafayette
Chosen: 125th overall
Size: 6- 1/2, 191 pounds
Scouting report: The Steelers filled another need by getting a speedy cornerback who also has good size. Taylor, who prefers to be called Ike, runs a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash. ... Outstanding special teams player. ... Visited 27 NFL teams this spring. ... Converted from tailback, which he played in 2001. ... Did not play football in 1999 and 2000, then joined the team as a walk-on and earned a scholarship in 2001. ... Was a place-kicker in high school in addition to playing tailback, defensive end and cornerback. ... Went four consecutive games last season without allowing a pass completion against him.


Name: Brian St. Pierre
Position: Quarterback
College: Boston College
Chosen: 163rd overall
Size: 6-2 3/4, 218 pounds
Scouting report: With Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch as the incumbents, St. Pierre will have an opportunity to learn for a few years before moving up the ladder. ... Good size, a good leader and tough but does not have great arm strength. ... Knock on him was he did not improve as a senior after a good junior season. ... He had a good ratio with 23 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions in 2001, but those numbers slipped to 18 TDs, 17 interceptions last season. ... Steelers' offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey blamed the drop-off on the talent around him compared to 2001. ... Native of Danvers, Mass. ... Played as a redshirt freshman at Boston College behind Matt Hasselbeck, who is Seattle's starter.


Name: J.T. Wall
Position: Fullback
College: Georgia
Chosen: 242nd overall
Size: 5-11 1/2, 265 pounds
Scouting: Primarily a blocker, which is what the Steelers want from their fullbacks. ... Not much of a runner but has shown an ability to catch passes. ...With Dan Kreider set to become an unrestricted free agent next year and with no real backup fullback, Steelers needed another player at the position. ... He was in the same backfield with Verron Haynes, a Steelers draft choice last year. ... Says he moves well for 265 pounds. ... Started out at Southwest Baptist in 1999 and started there two years, then transferred to Georgia as a walk-on.

Fan Smak & Analysis
The following articles are listed in the order they were received (with the most recent entries at the BOTTOM). This isn't a "guestbook" format... I read and manually insert every message, so you may not see your submission show up immediately. Thanks a million for your comments, people!

Author: Steeler Lou
Comment: Re: You forgot knock #5

You forgot knock #5, TFH: Troy's from USC.

Being a Bruin fan, I guess im gonna have to live with it.. This guy seems to have the right stuff and most importantly, attitude. Cant wait to see him knock some heads.
Author: Tony Dig
Comment: Re: Steelers apply “win now” philosophy

Watching the "highlight" package of Troy's greatest USC moments is quite impressive. I guess as any player's best plays would be.

His speed is quite evident. Looks like a missle out there going after a target. True he will need to learn some coverage skills, but he appears to have the speed to cover. Yeah, not the tallest saftey around, but his desire speed and toughness should make up for lack of height.

The Steelers wanted this guy real bad and went after him. They got their man. I like the pick.
Author: OkieSteelerFan
Comment: Re: Steelers apply “win now” philosophy

I still wish they would have picked up Woolfolk. He is going to be a starter - I can't believe they traded up to get a guy that the "experts" and I say that loosely say would have been there at 27. I hope it was worth it.
Author: Masta P
Comment: Re: Steelers apply “win now” philosophy

Okie he wasn't going to be there at 2-7. The Saints and Colts had Po locked in on their sights and ready to fire. And some of those highlights I saw of him were amazing... Once the Steelers polish him up I think he will be a pro bowler.

BTW... Ike has the same intangebles as Woolfolk. Could be a good deal... we shall see.
Author: Tommy Coleman
Comment: Ike Taylor


This could be the fastest man taken in the draft.

Maybe the fastest in the NFL?

Go read his bio on the page and check out how many people this guy knocked out of games!!!

Former RB.

Only Two years of college ball.

One year at CB!




Future Star...?
Author: McSteelerfan
Comment: Re: Ike Taylor

A 4.24 40?...... That's the claim.....unbelieveable.....this guy goes faster than my paycheck......and believe me , that's fast.

I think Cowher and company did great.

My big thing was upgrading at safety , and the guys did it better than I could have hoped....(Hope-d ?)

Troy seems like a real decent type , too.
Our Defense is gonna rock this year.
Not to mention 9 free agent rookie Defensive players signed
And 11 Offensive players.......its all good.
Author: ranomac
Comment: who will sit out first because of the hit?

the steelers new strong saftey troy or hines ward? the practice's are gonna be pretty intense with these two. i see a mutual respest kinda relationship with these guys i think it will only help the steelers.
Author: 1steelerguy
Comment: OUCH on the H-I-T

Hines or troy; i think this will be a very good thing for our team. I'm also sure they will have a mutual respect for each other, but............ some one is going to take/give the MONSTER. remember the Kendral/Bettis hit at the goal line? well we will see and GO STEELERS!!!!!!!!
Author: SteelerMike58
Comment: Please......Lets win one for a change!

My buddies kept calling me on draft day wanting to know who we should take..Some said Rex Groosman, other said the Bus was done and we needed a running back. "Damn it" , I told them, lets win one for a change. Lets try to fix what it broken now and not fix something that might go wrong next year.

Yes, Bettis has not had a good season in a couple of years. Cowher addressed it. Jerome you show up again overweight you might not have a job. Who was Tommy Maddox a year ago? My Bengal buddies were giving me shit....ohh XFL.....Tommy shut em up. Mc I know you remeber the combacks last year....Brownies in the playoffs anyone.... Give Tommy a chance. Jerome knows his job is on the line, bet we get a great year from him. If he gets hurt so be it, that is why we have Amous and Fu.

Our biggest problem last year was 3rd down. We couldn't get off the field. Titans in the playoffs, does anybondy remeber last year and the 4th quater of that game. The Steelers did the best they could to get Dexter Jackson. He said he wanted to play for a Super Bowl contender. If he did, he would not have signed with Arizona.......PLEASE. The Steelers needed to address the safety spot and the did, did the best the could. Troy P has been called a warrior by some draft pubs, from what I have seen looks pretty accurate to me. Go Troy..... GO STEELERS!
Author: Your name here
Comment: Coming soon

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Draft Links
You'll find everything draft-related you could possibly want at the following links:
ESPN Draft Central
TFY Draft
KFFL Draft
Mel Kiper Draft
Football's Future
NFL Draft Blitz
Boomer's Draft
First Rounders
All-Time First Round Draft Picks! Did you know the Steelers' first-ever draft pick in 1936 was named William Shakespeare? No kidding! From Bradshaw to Woodson, they're HERE.
Great '70s Drafts
Those Were the Days!
Mean Joe. Bradshaw. Franco. Swann. For a GREAT article about Noll's legendary 1st round draft picks of the '70's, CLICK HERE.

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