If you’ve been paying attention to the endless stream of mock drafts floating around the Internet over the past couple of months there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled across one that featured the Steelers using their first-round pick on Baylor guard Danny Watkins. We’ve talked about this quite a bit, and as long as it keeps coming up we’ll continue to laugh at it. The latest expert to send Watkins in Pittsburgh’s direction: Mel Kiper’s arch-nemesis at ESPN, Todd McShay.
Said McShay (it’s an Insider article behind their pay wall): What do you think the Las Vegas odds would have been at the start of the 2010 season that Baylor would have back-to-back picks in the first round? In all seriousness, Watkins is solid in pass protection and as a run blocker and brings a nasty disposition to the table. He would be a nice fit next to 2010 first-rounder and Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey. The Steelers could also opt for a cornerback like Williams or Harris, but the interior offensive line is Pittsburgh’s top need.
I’m guessing the odds of Baylor players going back-to-back (he has the Jets taking defensive tackle Phil Taylor with the pick just before the Steelers) in the first round are better than that of the Steelers using their top pick on a 26-year-old (who will turn 27 during the season) guard.
For one, here’s a quick look at the age of every Steelers first round draft pick since 2000 during their rookie season:
Maurkice Pouncey (21), Ziggy Hood (22), Rashard Mendenhall (21), Lawrence Timmons (21), Santonio Holmes (22), Heath Miller (22), Ben Roethlisberger (22), Troy Polamalu (22), Kendall Simmons (23), Casey Hampton (23), Plaxico Burress (22).
Since Mike Tomlin has been the Steelers’ head coach the first-round picks have consistently been on the lower side of 22. All young. All athletic. All with rather large upside. I’m not saying that Watkins can’t possibly get any better than he already is — he has, after all, only played football for three years — but how much upside does he really have at this point?
If he were to join the Steelers roster for the 2011 season he would be older than the following the players on the day he arrived, before he suited up for one practice: Dennis Dixon, Jonathan Dwyer, Rashard Mendenhall, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace, David Johnson, Doug Legursky, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster, Chris Scott, Ziggy Hood, Steve McClendon, Stevenson Sylvester, Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds, Crezdon Butler, William Gay, Keenan Lewis, Ryan Mundy.
He would also be older than Limas Sweed, Ra’shon Harris and Tyler Grisham, and within weeks of Tony Hills and Isaac Redman. Needless to say, that’s a large chunk of the roster and practice squad.
I suppose it’s possible the Steelers could value Watkins and be willing to overlook his age, but it would represent quite a shift in drafting strategy (at least as far as the first round is concerned).
I’m betting against it.